Puppeteers of the World: Neville Tranter

Reprinted from: Marek Waszkiel, Lalkarze świata / Puppeteers of the World: Neville Tranter, „Teatr Lalek” 2023, No.1, pp. 7-13 (Polish version), 14-20 (English version).

Neville Tranter represents the most significant features of contemporary puppetry suffused with assorted animants. They pertain to the puppet as such and the totally new relations created between the puppet and its animator. Previously, we were unfamiliar with those relations, at least upon such a scale, nor did we practice them. Neville Tranter and the Japanese puppeteer Hoichi Okamoto, expanding his activity almost at the same time, jointly consolidated the new shape of the theatre of animated matter. Now, the actor appeared alongside the puppet. He was always responsible for the animation of inanimate forms and did so openly, albeit upon occasion in a manner invisible for the spectator since the very technique of animation could be concealed. Above all, however, the actor was the puppet’s partner. He played the part of a stage character, similarly as did the puppet. And these were equal dramatis personae. The actor-person did not dominate theatrical space. He showed a world in which the human being, the actor as such, and the inanimate object function according to the same principles, as brilliantly visualized in the Okamoto spectacles[1]. Characters created by the actor’s motion resembling dance and using masks concealing his face and that of the puppet, were the reason why it was difficult to distinguish the puppeteer from the puppet and the recounted story.  

Neville Tranter disclosed and developed his puppetry language just as precisely. He opted for totally different puppets derived from Jim Henson’s muppets, but enlarged, deprived of legs, and granted solely the trunk and mimic faces with enormous eyes and mouths, as well as large hands next to which the imposing figure of Tranter-the actor grows smaller. Tranter’s puppets are grotesque caricatures, endowed with vivid colours, harsh make-up, and aggressive costumes. All these features distinguish them on stage and bring forth their inanimate shapes to the foreground. Neville Tranter also speaks for all the characters, modulating his voice and changing its timbre; he stands vis-à-vis the puppets in such a manner that we often do not notice not only the motion of his lips but even his face. Instead, we see perfectly the face of the puppet and its impeccable articulation. Tranter is a dramatic actor, and just as Okamoto transferred into the space of puppet spectacles an awareness of the body and the technique of the butoh dance, so Tranter transferred the actor’s skills. His spectacles, regardless of their puppetry virtuosity, remain a masterly actor’s creation of simultaneously several puppet characters. As an actor Tranter occasionally serves his protagonists, and upon occasions assumes the function of their assistant. He is always predominantly the animants’ partner by performing his role as a live actor. Upon occasions, he even additionally complicates his acting tasks and appears, apart from the character played by him, as a demiurge creating the entire intricate theatrical reality, the multi-tier world of the theatrical metaphor. From then on, this multitude of roles enacted by a single artist has turned into one of the principles distinguishing contemporary puppetry, although not many have attained mastery in this domain.  

Tranter and Okamoto introduced into puppetry new disciplines, the art of acting, and body art. Since then numerous most outstanding puppeteers began to outfit their animation skills with perfect knowledge of the skills of other fields of the arts, such as the circus, pantomime, dance, video, and visual arts…  After all, contemporary puppetry is more than the art of animation, although animation remains its fundamental distinguishing feature.

Neville Tranter’s career began in Australia. He was born in 1955 in a miner’s family in Toowoomba (Queensland). As an art academy student he learned about the theatre, painting[2] , and sculpture, but changed his life decisions after meeting the American director Robert Gist, with whom he spent four years studying classical acting based on the Stanislavsky method. During the second-year course the students’ tutor invited Barbara and Bill Turnbull, founders of the traditional Billbar Puppet Theatre. “I saw my first live puppet show… discovered puppets and their world of fantasy, and I knew immediately that I would work with puppets”[3]. The Turnbulls taught Tranter the art of animation and, predominantly, the construction of auteur animants. Tranter owes the skill of making puppets to Barbara Turnbull, born in Vienna; her magnificent collection included numerous books on wood carving. Realistic and sometime abstract German puppets, frequently featuring a vividly Expressionistic form, were excellent models. Barbara supervised Tranter’s work and outright forced him to devise his own personal style[4].

Upon graduation Tranter spent half a year working in a church marionette theatre in Melbourne, where he took part in daily performances of the story of David and Goliath. “I never actually saw the spectators or their reaction, nor did I know whether my marionette was looking at a seat taken by someone. It was only I and the puppets. I found this so unsatisfactory that I resigned from my job”[5] – he recalled. He also experimented with other forms – spanning from masks and flat forms to hand puppets. Work in a theatre restaurant where, inspired by the accomplishments of Jim Henson, Tranter turned to muppets, proved to be a breakthrough.  

Together with his friends in 1976 Tranter established the Stuffed Puppet Theatre[6]. His first appearance in front of an audience took place in a Melbourne night club, where he staged a puppet show, a sui-generis political cabaret with live music. Subsequently, he was invited to the Festival of Fools in Amsterdam, where the puppet program of the 23 years old Tranter enjoyed an enthusiastic reception, consequently decisive for settling down in Europe and taking up residence in Amsterdam. From the very onset Tranter wished to perform exclusively for an adult audience.   

In the course of more than forty years Neville Tranter staged over twenty solo spectacles, from Studies in Fantasy (1982) to UBU (2021). He employed assorted puppetry techniques and evoked various theatre conventions before ultimately moulding a style of his own. Only his bond with animants remained unchanged. “Puppets have helped me to become a better actor. They can portray every aspect of the human soul from innocence to evil. And they can do this with an incredible honesty…”[7]. “Puppets possess a special quality and embody human beings. Due to the fact that they are not humans it is possible with their help to show on the stage every aspect of humanity. The moment I discovered their powerful capacity I became alarmed and uncertain – I understood that I could not compete with them. Entering the stage together with a puppet as its equal partner took a lot of courage. […] On the one hand, I realize that my puppets exist thanks to me but, on the other hand, upon every occasion I feel that in some mysterious way they are autonomous beings”[8].

Studies in Fantasy, Tranter’s first solo spectacle, was composed of a set of short etudes. This form of entertainment intended for adults resorted to pantomime, a limited text, as well as hand puppets and marionettes. After the premiere the artist decided to make use of man-sized forms – the most direct and, at the same time, practical.   

Apparently, Tranter began to shape his individual style from the time of the premiere of The Seven Deadly Sins (1984). The play, based on a single scene from The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, was a series of etudes involving an actor (Tranter), whose face was concealed by an expressive golden mask of Mephistopheles – the servant and advocate of Beelzebub, and puppets representing the seven deadly sins – lechery, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy and pride. Tranter-Mephisto was the mute addressee, animator, and partner of all the puppet-characters delivering monologues, despairing over their fate, and provoking the animator, but predominantly the public with whose members the puppets entered into monologue interactions. The opening scene with Beelzebub (a puppet with a wolf’s muzzle, fangs, and great jaws) outlined the story of the contract involving Faust’s soul and an enclosed invitation to take part in the spectacle – an entertainment show straight out of the depths of Hell involving the seven deadly sins. The text of the scenario, merely inspired by Marlowe, was written for the needs of the spectacle – an approach which from then on became a permanent principle of Tranter’s productions. The themes of successive spectacles, frequently derived from great literature but basically transcribed, were adapted by the artist to the requirements of the contemporary audience and staging potential.  

The same holds true for relations between the actor and the puppet, which Tranter construes in a heretofore entirely unknown way. Envisaged as independent dramatis personae, the puppets establish their own relations with the audience. In Seven Deadly Sins jealousy, personified by a puppet deprived of limbs, claims the legs of one of the spectators. In a spectacle staged several years later Molière’s Servant, sensitive to feminine charms, urges an at random noticed member of the audience to enjoy a tête-à-tête after the show. Puppets handled by Tranter feel at ease, respond to their animator’s activity or absence of reaction, capture the reactions of the spectators and act on them, or else provoke members the audience. These rejoinders are that of the puppets, and not Tranter-the actor. In addition, they broach upon delicate and controversial topics associated with violence, sexuality, domination, and aggression, at times embarrassing the audience. Upon occasions, this response makes itself known in peculiar laughter, the withdrawal of the spectators, publicly expressed critique or shock, as in the case of Cary M. Mazer announcing American presentations of Neville Tranter’s The Nightclub: “[…] a few years ago in Room 5 he flagellated one [puppet] and strangled another, and if memory serves (and I doubt that I have the imagination to have invented this) had a priest-puppet engage in sex with the corpse of another puppet. In the title role of his version of Macbeth! two years ago (with a text by Luk van Meerbeke), he drew a puppet-penis from his fly and peed on the corpse of Duncan, whom he had just murdered and pretended to mourn”[9].

In 1985, prior to Room 5 and Macbeth! Neville Tranter prepared two spectacles: Manipulator and Underdog. Both share a curious concept of violence and submission, domination and humiliation perversely realized by theatrical means. Both were still part of a current of spectacles composed of independent etudes, which at least theoretically could be exchanged for others since they are not complete dramas, as in Tranter’s later productions. Manipulator was a cabaret of sorts, Underdog – a sui generis psychodrama, but both constituted the quintessence of inter-personal dependencies and involvements, and in theatrical terms – of relations between the puppeteer and the puppet.  

In Manipulator Tranter – a stage entertainer sporting a moustache delicately drawn with a pencil – demonstrates a series of puppet acts[10] outfitted with witty commentary referring to the circumstances of playing the spectacle, the gathered members of the audience, and, predominantly, the stories told by the puppets which he invites to take part in his acts. He conducts scintillating dialogues about the human/puppet condition with Nick the Nose, whom he first deprives of legs and then the nose, with a female dancing partner, whom he ultimately pushes off the stage, with a puppet’s head searching for limbs and landing among the audience, with Le Woof Woof, an amiable dog which he subjects to brutal training, with Charlie, a puppet emerging from the actor’s shoulder bag and ultimately strangled, and, finally, with a wretched Chinese duck from which he squeezes out the eggs it is incapable of laying. And although the last number, involving a frog named Florissa, which by kissing Tranter changes him into a toad, appears to be an act of justice meted out by the puppets it does not alter the general impression that it is man-the animator who dominates the world of the characters which he brings to life and which for him remain exclusively objects of manipulation, regardless of the emotions expressed by them. The actor-puppet relations in the spectacle are realized upon different levels: textual, interpretation, animation, and emotional. Watching it, even today, after four decades, it is difficult not to admire Tranter’s mastery both as actor and puppeteer.    

”In Underdog, the theme of dominance and submission, inherent in the powerplay of puppet and puppeteer in Manipulator is continued in an even darker vein, but again the metaphor of the theatre is central to the piece. […] The illusion is a wonderful paradox of the puppet-puppeteer relationship. Here is Tranter as a puppeteer controlling and giving voice to the puppet which brutalises, controls and strikes dumb Tranter. This back-and-forth illusion of actor/puppeteer is unflaggingly sustained throughout the play”[11]. Tranter-the actor plays the part of Boy, the humiliated, sexually abused (in a brilliant scene with a Physician, in which the puppet – as if undressing in front of Boy – divests itself of hands, torso, limbs, and head, thus transforming itself into a disgusting spider), and mute son of the sinister impresario Lazarillo, director of the travelling Theatre of Fear, Cruelty, and Pain. Boy-Tranter is bald, with a bared chest, wears a dog collar and in one of the scenes with Lazarillo even a chain which the Father-puppet, whose legs entwine Tranter’s waist, uses to drag Boy onto the arena. Boy is mute, and Tranter utters solely inarticulate sounds, but his face, eyes, and lips express the extraordinarily dramatic character of the humiliated protagonist. On the other hand, puppets portraying Mother, Father, Half-brother, Paedophile-Physician, and, finally, Death, create full-blooded characters, to whom Tranter lends his voice. And the puppets are aware of this: they need the mute Boy so that they could exist on stage.

In Manipulator and Underdog Neville Tranter’s perversity, but also his theatrical skill, are expressed precisely by the extraordinary partnership of the actor and his stage characters. Puppets may be humiliated, degraded, and crushed, but the same plight might befall their creator. It is the animants that judge and control him. And in doing so they may be as tender or brutal as a living person. Such are the features of contemporary puppetry, the partnership of actor and puppet.  

In the second half of the 1980s Tranter did not cease exploring new conventions and deepening his relations with puppets. The natural ability to split his own personality into himself and the puppet, which he discovered at the onset of his career, offered new experiences in Room 5, a psychological thriller, in which – probably the only time in his stage praxis – Tranter turned into an obsessive nurse “caring for” the patients of a psychiatric ward. The actor’s make-up rendered him unrecognizable, and the nurse’s abuse of puppet patients, i.a. a schizophrenic boy convinced that he had murdered his mother, placed this spectacle within the current of the theatre of cruelty.

According to Julian Leatherdale, an apogee of the study of human evil is to be found in Macbeth! (1990), written and directed by Luk van Meerbeke [Adrian van Dijk], with whom Tranter was to co-work upon several other occasions (i.a. on The Nightclub and Molière). In this spectacle the artist made use of slightly different puppets – very large and mounted on mobile stands. This approach enabled him to achieve a more complete composition of stage space, which from that time featured animants that remained passive as long as the actor did not establish direct relations with them, but nonetheless constructing a holistic stage image. The simultaneous multiplicity of characters in The Nightclub, Salome, Molière, Re: Frankenstein, Schicklgruber, Vampire, Cuniculus or Mathilde changed fundamentally the character of Tranter’s spectacles from a series of thematically linked etudes into theatrical stagings of sorts.   

Tranter maintains that his puppets “are in fact very limited”. Made from rubber foam covered with a layer of glue and latex, they are light and resilient. Their construction is not complicated and if it often appears that the puppets do much more than they are capable of then this is the effect of the actor’s interpretation, the use of his voice, the animator’s manual skilfulness, and suitable lighting. „I don’t treat them [my puppets] as sacred objects. They get punched and beaten, thrown into the audience. This upsets some puppeteers”, Tranter admits, accustomed to the controversial and extreme reactions of critics and public alike.  

From the very onset of his career Neville Tranter made use of extremely emotional themes in the belief that this does not infringe the security of the spectator. “This theatre is about the daily struggle with life and death. That’s the kind of energy it comes from. In different forms we face it every day even if we’re not always aware of it” – he states. “The theatre is the only place you can deal with strong emotions….”. Accustomed to the magical duality of puppetry we still retain a distance towards stories told by puppets. ”It is only a puppet after all; should you take it so deadly seriously?”[12].

Putting the oeuvre of Neville Tranter into unambiguous order and describing his greatest successes would probably prove to be a difficult task. Indubitably, however, Molière (1998) and Schicklgruber alias Adolf Hitler (co-director: Theo Fransz, 2003) belong to the most often awarded and commented spectacles. Incidentally, it is worth mentioning the circumstances of their origin.

Molière was written as a result of a refusal to award Tranter a grant intended for a new spectacle based on a text by the French playwright. ”This is why I decided to make a spectacle about Molière and loyalty – of the artist to himself, his talent, and labour, as well as faithfulness in marriage, the allegiance of a servant towards his master… Although so much time has passed since Molière’s death certain things have not changed – artists still have to struggle to survive and their work is judged by civil servants”[13].

This was Neville Tranter’s consecutive solo spectacle. At this point, however, I would like to refer to a subsequent realisation prepared in 2015 at Teatr Animacji (Poznań). For the Dutch artist it denoted working with an ensemble composed of six actors for whom he wrote out his solo spectacle. “Antoś (Artur Romański), servant and Harlequin in one  – excitable and hyperactive, offering his animation and vocal ‘services’ to several characters, but himself not linked for longer with any of the puppets, interacts and contrasts with Molière-Pantaloon (the chief animator of this puppet is Marcin Ryl-Krystianowski)”[14]. “Tranter based the plot of his story on a sick, symbiotic arrangement between those two characters […]. The scenes in which, together with Romański, they casually, brutally, and outright cruelly manipulate the body of the Molière muppet while putting him to bed, are poignant”[15].

The Poznań version of Molière was an occasion to verify Tranter’s conception of actor and puppet performing in a multi-player cast. It revealed fresh potentials, enhanced the repertoire of actor-animation measures, and indubitably posed a new challenge both for Neville Tranter and the institutional theatre – this was Tranter’s first encounter with the latter as director[16]. He must have been pleased with such cooperation because three years later Tranter once again returned to a multi-player production, this time while working on a premiere of Ubu Roi at the ”Lėlė“ puppet theatre (Vilnius, 2018).

Nonetheless, Tranter stages theatre spectacles predominantly for himself. ”I make theatre seek a language for speaking about topics that I find interesting. When it was proposed that I do a spectacle about Adolf Hitler, at first I refused… Later, however, I started to wonder whether I was capable of rendering puppets capable of dealing with such a difficult and complex topic. I trust puppets implicitly and believe that they can show lucidly all aspects of human nature – from the most beautiful to the murkiest – much better than actors. Their greatest strength is their grotesque nature – it is easier to extract the grotesqueness of human existence by using puppets than people”[17].

Schicklgruber alias Hitler describes the last days of the Third Reich and is a curious study of the frenzy of the Führer enclosed in a bunker together with those closest to him. Tranter-the actor is, as always, the animator, but he also plays the part of the servant Heinz Linge and the Death-Clown puppet character, endowing the entire spectacle with a grotesque-humorous tinge. The puppets used in the production comprise a spectrum of Tranterian animants, spanning from extremely simple heads of puppets on rods, representing the children of Goebbels, whose names their father was always incapable of remembering, followed by classical half-muppets (Hitler or Goebbels with a crutch, on which Tranter supports a puppet deprived of legs), to complete characters (Eva Braun, Göring, and Death). Tranter uses assorted mobile carts and racks for arranging the puppets, fills the entire stage with numerous props, and creates a vast entourage for his virtuoso work as actor and puppeteer.  

In Schicklgruber the artist sought a successive dark theme of human passions, for which he discovered a fascinating theatrical vision. Several years later he did the same in Vampire (2006), in which he explored the world of relations between teenagers and their parents, and, subsequently, in Cuniculus (2008) – a story about the preservation and loss of humanity taking place in a rabbit’s burrow – in which he pursued the theme of the preservation and loss of humanity. In Mathilde (2012) Tranter embarked on the very topical problem of old age experienced in a nursing home, which for some is a bloodsucking business venture and for the inmates – an ultimate attempt at salvaging their dignity and an incessant human pursuit of evading happiness.  

Without resigning from his solo artistic plans, which resulted in, i.a. Punch and  Judy in Afghanistan (2009), The King (2015), and the perfidious and, at times, iconoclastic Babylon (2018), Neville Tranter has for years remained fascinated with  links between puppetry and music. First, in 2005 he took part, together with the puppets he designed, in Oresteia by Iannis Xenakis to the text by Aeschylus (Muziektheater Hollands Diep, director: Cilia Hogerzeil); subsequently, he directed, and played in, Acis and Galatea, the chamber opera by Haendel performed at Freitagsakademie Bern (2007), and then, in 2010, he produced, together with the same company, Dido and Eneas by Henry Purcell. Opera stagings, often preceded by puppetry workshops, paved the way for new puppets (sometimes semi-transparent and made of a head mounted on a neck, and hands on rods) and especially for new relations between the puppet and the actor-vocalist and, simultaneously, the animator. In 2019 Tranter wrote and, together with Nikolaus Habjan, appeared in The Hills Are Alive, a spectacle produced by Schauspielhaus Graz (Austria), loosely based on the classical Hollywood musical The Sound of Music, but still a relevant and topical satire on Austrian politics, tackling problems connected with exiles and containing grotesque associations with historical and contemporary contexts. Once again, just as in Tranter’s best spectacles, the dominating component is the brilliant actor-puppet interpretation, especially considering that Nicolaus Habjan’s expertise – and this is a true rarity – equals that of Neville Tranter.

Tranter’s last solo spectacle is UBU (2021), based on the play by Alfred Jarry. He returned to it several years after the Vilnius staging, but the outcome proved to be an entirely different production. While re-writing Jarry’s text Tranter added a character named Nobody, absent in the original version, with whom he identifies on stage while appearing as a live actor. As always, Tranter confronts members of the audience with their fears and dreams. This time the prime theme is longing for power, for which Nobody reaches out in the closing scene. His coup is temporarily halted by Bougerlas, son of the dethroned monarch, but for how long? We leave the theatre to the accompaniment of the U.S. national anthem, although it could be probably replaced by anthems of many other powers. Yes, this is the era of Nobodies. Tranter reveals that UBU is his last solo spectacle.  

The Neville Tranter universe assumes shape on stage. “On stage, he [the artist] is surrounded by creatures of almost human size, with enormous faces and hands. Parted lips, flashing eyes, they are horrifying, droll or poignant. Their presence is such that we see only the puppets […] Neville Tranter is their voice, their guide, their servant. He loves this strange relation, those rapports of force and tenderness between the master and the servant, the creator and the puppet”[18]  Tranter’s puppets do not have legs, and this too is the artist’s deliberate decision – he acknowledged that legs are not an indispensable element. ”If you add legs to the puppet they will come alive, disturb the spectator’s attention by their motion because all that moves on stage draws attention. If puppets have to move on the ground then I lengthen the costume of the given character”[19].

”Puppets can present every single aspect of human nature, and I can show this, make it visible. Everything: protest, the dark side of humanity, love, every aspect of human nature. You can use puppets to show this. This is more difficult for the actor; in the case of the puppet which is a mask this works directly. We simply see the puppet. Obviously, one has to discover how to do this”[20]. ”A puppet is a thing in itself. It is its own being, has a life of its own, and thus we can project our thoughts and emotions upon this creature conceived as a subject. I trusted the puppet, and I trust them totally. They accept me the way I am and do not judge me. In some way I feel secure with the puppet, but I am by no means sentimental . […] I don’t talk with my puppets at home, no, never”[21].

Tranter also does not collect the devised animants used in assorted spectacles. The only exception is Mr. Zeno, who has been accompanying the artist for the past thirty years, from the time when it appeared in the vaudeville: The Nightclub as the other half of the “World Famous Duo Anthony & Zeno”, in which the part of Anthony was played by Tranter and Zeno was a complete puppet, even outfitted with legs. “At a certain moment I realised just how extraordinary it is, being capable of playing every part – from a child and a young girl to an old man or even an animal. I use it for all my master-classes since no other puppet is as suitable for teaching as this one”[22]. For several decades, workshops conducted by Neville Tranter are already totally different. Their participants discover the unknown world of actor-puppet relations. Tranter is the unequalled master, excellent teacher, consultant, and supervisor of different artistic projects. He assisted quite a few artists in their efforts to grant final shape to nascent spectacles.

“My first solo spectacle (Angel) was created under the guidance of Tranter” – Duda Paiva recalls. “Few days spent in his company in the course of theatre rehearsals revolutionized my inner world. His coaching not only developed my puppetry skills, but shaped my dedication to the art of animation, towards which I later discovered a path of my own. Neville Tranter turned me into a believer [in the power of animation]. In 2008 I invited him to direct Malediction. I wanted to produce a spectacle without words, with numerous intertwined stories and an original plot. He asked me – ‘why?’ (As is well known, he is a master of spectacles based on texts). ‘Because you have a choreographic mind’ – I answered. ‘Puppetry is rhythm – he summarized”[23].

It is worth citing yet another opinion, this time that of Yael Rasooly, the Israeli puppeteer, director, and vocalist presently coworking with Neville Tranter on her most recent solo spectacle about Edith Piaf. “My body will retain forever the physical  memory of the last scene of Neville Tranter’s Frankenstein, one of the first puppet spectacles I ever watched. He stood there all alone, ultimately without puppets, after a skilfully directed spectacle laying bare humanity in all its grandeur, fragility, and brutality, which from the very first second aroused my total admiration, and with his entire body, charged with incredible electricity, he performed Purcell’s The Cold Song. My life changed forever. I became aware of the force of this form of art. […]. Neville is capable of working simultaneously on the most minute elements, of imposing a particular direction of the gaze, a precise breath length (he says that all this is technique… it is choreography), at the same time retaining the essence of the story, the plan of the dramaturgy, the motive force of each character, all for the purpose of sculpting human emotions anew. His knowledge, intuition, precision, skilfulness, and generous, beautiful heart are there in all their magnificence. When we progress rapidly and scrupulously he repeats for the hundredth time: Yael, you do/speak too much. LESS MEANS MORE. Trust the puppet”[24].

Even if Neville Tranter upholds his intention to resign from creating new solo spectacles we shall still be able to watch him in Mathilde, Babylon, and UBU, and in 2024 in The Hills Are Alive at the Deutsches Theatre in Berlin.


[1]  On Okamoto’s works see: M. Waszkiel, Lalkarze świata/Puppeteers of the World: Hoichi Okamoto, “Teatr Lalek” 2021, no. 2-3. [2]  Up to this day Neville Tranter is involved in painting and his accomplishments include numerous one-man exhibitions, i.a. in the USA, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, and Denmark. [3]  H. Kaye, The Fantasy Maker, “The Jerusalem Post” 21.05.2007. [4]  From an interview with Neville Tranter, Silkeborg, 13.11.2022. [5] Teatr lalek to nie futbol /The Puppet Theatre is Not Football. Z Nevillem Tranterem rozmawia Agata Drwięga /Agata Drwięga Talks to Neville Tranter, ”Teatr Lalek” 2016, no. 3-4. [6]  “The word: ‘stuffed’ has many meanings: to become stuffed after gorging on food or a stuffed soft toy, while in Australia ‘to get stuffed’ also denotes this gesture. [Shows the middle finger.] The name was extremely fitting for the spectacle which we presented… “(ibidem). [7]  Kaye, loc. cit. [8]  Teatr lalek to nie futbol, loc. cit. [9]  C. M. Mazer, https://web.english.upenn.edu/~cmazer/stuffed.html  [10]  In the first version of Manipulator Tranter still hid his face behind a caricatured mask, which he finally threw away five years after the premiere. [11]  J. Leatherdale, Magic, Madness and Puppetry, “OZ Arts”, no. 4, 1992. [12]  I cite Tranter’s statements after Julian Leatherdale, ibidem. [13]  Teatr lalek to nie futbol, loc. cit. [14]  Naturally, during the premiere solo interpretations of both parts – that of Molière and his servant – were played by Tranter (footnote – Marek Waszkiel). [15]  J. Tyszka, Gargantuicznie (In a Gargantuan Manner)   https://teatralny.pl/recenzje/gargantuicznie,1366.html [16]  Actually, Tranter’s first encounter with a large cast took place in 2007 in Berne, where he directed and, as an animator, took part in the staging of the opera Acis and Galatea by Georg Friedrich Haendel, together with eight musicians and five singers, while simultaneously animating, sometimes in surprising combinations, small hand puppets-muppets. [17]  Teatr lalek to nie futbol, loc. cit. [18]  Fragment of a review from ”Le Monde”, cited after: https://www.stuffedpuppet.nl/francais/. Translation into English from the original French. [19]  From the author’s conversation with Neville Tranter, Silkeborg 13.11.2022. By the way, the correctness of resigning from the puppet’s legs is conspicuous in, e.g. Salome (1996), possibly the last Tranter spectacle in which one of the characters had legs. [20]  Ibidem. [21]  La Voix de son Maître, scenario and direction: Manuelle Blanc, documentary film ARTE France – AGAT Films & Cie, 2013. [22]  Teatr lalek to nie futbol, loc. cit. [23]  Fragments from a letter by Duda Paiva to the author, 29.11. 2022. [24] Statement by Yael Rasooly from a letter to the author, 9.12.2022.


Photos: Wim Sitvast, Michael Kneffel, Bernhard Fuchs, Jan Beove, Carla Kogelman

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