Puppet Theatre


La Marionettistica Fratelli Napoli, Tandarica, Yves Joly, Bread and Puppet Theatre

The Erasmus Prize for theatre in 1978 was dedicated to puppet theatre, since this art form, which has gained a place of its own beside other forms of theatrical art, so clearly manifests the magic of the theatre itself. The puppet theatre is a form of expression with deep popular roots, in which a direct interaction takes place between the performance and the audience.

Four important groups of puppeteers, representing four main streams of this art form were awarded with the prize. The many performances given in collaboration with the Holland Festival offered a large audience the opportunity to become acquainted with the prize winners.

The Fratelli Napoli from Catania in Sicily (founded in 1921) presents stories of Charlemagne and his struggle against the Saracens, with such heroes as Orlando Furioso; other performances are based on Shakespeare or the Japanese No theatre. They make use of techniques that are centuries old, and make their own rod puppets. Their performances are a form of popular theatre full of Sicilian melodrama.

The Frenchman Yves Joly was the heart and soul of the ‘Théâtre de Papier’. He used simple means and a refined and intimate play with his hands to express individual human emotions, reducing the puppet theatre to its simplest form.

The Rumanian group Tandarica (established in 1945) has a broad repertoire based on world literature. As of 1973 it also produced street theatre. Tandarica has developed a colourful and imaginative theatre that has had a fertile influence on post-war puppetry.

Peter Schumann, born in Silezia and educated in Germany, emigrated to the United States in 1961 where he founded his politically radical Bread and Puppet Theatre in 1963. Started as street theatre, his group, which includes human actors, approaches the visual arts, while the occasionally grotesque effects and magical-realistic atmosphere involve the viewer in world-events.

Each of the four prize-winners devoted their share of the prize to their own company.


In 1978 was de Erasmusprijs gewijd aan het poppentheater en werden vier stromingen binnen deze kunstvorm bekroond.