marionette

Definition

Theater

  • A puppet manipulated from above by strings (see puppettheater). This form of puppetry is very old, marionetteshaving been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The name may derive fromthe figurines of Mary in Nativity scenes. The marionette's stringsare connected to a wooden cross called a control or perch,and the rack upon which the puppets are kept is known as a perchery.

    The famous Salzburg Marionette Theatre was founded in 1913by Anton Aicher, who specialized in Mozart operas, using trained singersto provide voices for the marionettes on stage. In the same year VittorioPodrecca established the Teatro Dei Piccoli in Rome, which featuredmarionettes in lavish small-scale operas and fairy tales. It touredthe world successfully for 40 years. Other famous marionette theatersinclude the Marionetteatern in Stockholm and the Toone Theatre inBrussels.

    One of the best known 20th-century companies is Josef Skupa'sSpejbl and Hujrvinek Company, founded in Plzen before WorldWar II and now based in Prague. During the German occupation Skupawas imprisoned for the anti-Nazi views expressed by his marionettes,and his puppets thrown on a rubbish dump. Children found the figuresof Spejbl and Hujrvinek and returned them to Skupa after he was released.

    The Union Internationale de la Marionette is a world organizationfor those involved in puppet theater. The best known puppet museumis the Puppentheatersammlung in Munich.

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