Marionettes: The Monsters We Need?

It is no secret that I am obsessed with marionettes. This dates back to a magical Czech production of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ I saw aged about 8. I can still visualise all the puppets and it helped shape my gothic sensibility. I was also keen on Pinocchio. This came in handy in a pub quiz recently when the prize winning question was the name of the evil puppet master in Pinocchio. Tch..who does not know that?  Mangiafuoco, of course! He is the fictional director and puppet master of the Great Marionette Theatre (Gran Teatro dei Burattini), who appears in Carlo Collodi’s book The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio, 1883).  As a result of too much Pinocchio I used to want to be adopted by Mister Geppetto and The Blue Fairy (a heart breaking, gothic version of her appears in the 2001 film AI). As a child I had my own Pelham Puppets which I kept in their boxes in my room for years until they were confined to the cupboard under the stairs and eventually given away by an errant parent. I always liked the villains best, the mother dragon and the evil witch. I don’t know why these puppets had such an effect on me growing up (best not to psychoanalyse this – it is something Angela Carter understood well, she was fascinated by Kabuki theatre too). As an adult I take delight in the Marionette Theatres in Amsterdam and Prague. The puppets are wonderfully gothic and Faust influenced. Take a look at a few I have shared on Twitter below:

 

About Lucy Northenra

Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of Hertfordshire
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