Workshop Amsterdam Marionette Theatre

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All marionettes, props and sets are made in our own workshop. Sculptors, wood-carvers, propmasters and costume makers from the Netherlands, Ukraine and Italy: each has his specific expertise. In the unique theatre form of the classical marionette theatre these various disciplines come together.


Discussing the design of Princess Pamina

For the design of marionettes, animals, props and scenery director/designer Hendrik Bonneur looks for inspiration in several sources: paintings, nature and sometimes a human model. The famous Neapolitan Christmas cribs with their pastoral scenes were the inspiration for the marionettes in Mozarts Bastien & Bastienne, the colours of the Breton landscape were used for The Castle in the Air by Offenbach.
After the research phase all figures are being set up in clay by the sculptor. If necessary, corrections can be made before the marionettes are being carved out of wood.

Eleven year old Mozart

Each marionette is considered in its own typical character of movement: a stiff noble lady moves very differently than a young shepherd. The marionettes are being carved from lime-wood; in an early stage the joints are placed into the wood to give the sculptor free range. Great care is being given to the proportions and balance of the marionette: after all the marionette moves by the grace of gravity.

Embroidery for a costume in 'The Impresario'

Meanwhile a search is started for the very specific fabrics that are needed for the costumes. Silk, lace and velvet must be strong but also supple so as not to impede the marionettes - like dancers - in their freedom of movement. The costume maker first makes the trial costumes of a simple fabric and then the final costumes. The costumes are being decorated or embroidered by hand.

A moving stage-model in 'The Impresario'

While the marionettes are being made the propmakers are already busy to make the small and big objects that soon will play an important role in the performance. A hot-air balloon with in it a small man waving a handkerchief, a ship setting sail and a movable set-model (picture on the side): in marionette theatre the moving objects together with the marionettes and animals form the company of ´actors´.

Making a plan for the light-design

scenery and light
Painters and set-builders get busy making the sets. Often there is cooperation with Italian painters, who still master the craft of set-painting in perspective. Finally, light-technicians and the director/designer make the light-design: an often underestimated but essential part of the production. In the marionette theatre light plays an important role in the creation of an imaginary world and bringing to life the marionettes.

A performance behind the scenes

During the rehearsal process of a new production the marionettes, props, scenery and light are being continuously adjusted to theatrical demands. For it is only on stage that it becomes evident whether a marionette or an object functions well and has the desired expression. Often when an existing play is being rescheduled new props or characters are added, costumes and scenery adjusted.
A production is never ´finished´...

SEASON 2009 / 2010
design marionettes, sets and costumes: Hendrik Bonneur
marionettes: Liesbeth van Laarhoven, Hans Sietses, Jan Verheijen
costumes: Ivana Hodak     
props: Gitte Clemens, Ivana Hodak, Liesbeth van Laarhoven, Hans Sietses, Jan Verheijen
building the sets: Teus Klein, Hans Sietses
light: Pascal Puzio, Han Smits