Punch and Judy
Punch, a roughneck and daredevil, and his wife Judy, who is naive but ill-tempered, are the main characters of English puppetry and also part of our exhibition.
Our museum shows puppets from the mechanical Théatre Merveilleux, which used to give guest performances in Hamburg every year between 1854 and 1900. The artistic genius behind this theater was Georg Hartjen from Bremen, who had learned his techniques in Paris. From there he brought flat puppets made of metal, e.g. ice skaters. From 1854 onwards he constructed round puppets that could move their heads, eyes and mouths and who were able to walk on their legs. He founded his theater in the same year and it soon evolved into a kind of community college where everybody could see history come alive in play: the exploration of Africa, Egyptian culture or the lives of the nobility.
The museum’s inventory features a vast collection of Sicilian marionettes. This puppet type is controlled from above by means of a rod that is attached to the head. Usually they have movable shoulder and hip joints. In 1972, the museum’s founder Fritz Fey bought his first marionette when he was traveling in Italy. This exact puppet can be marveled at in our museum shop today.
Spejbl and Hurvínek are the two most famous marionettes by the Czech puppeteer Josef Skupa (1892–1957). They are the protagonists of a number of plays that star the Spejbl, the father, and his son Hurvínek, who is a cheeky but bright-minded boy. The stories blend grotesque humour with everyday satire. To this day, the Spejbl and Hurvínek Theater in Prague puts the stories of the two protagonists as well as Hurvíneks friend Mánicka, Žeryk the dog and Spejbl’s wife Katerina on stage and they give guest performances all over the world. Father and son can of course be seen in our exhibition and they are also available as little marionettes in our shop.