PUPPETRY IN THE NETHERLANDS
The first traces can be read in a book dated 1363, by a character called "Count of Blois", then living in Dordrecht under the name of Jean de Chatillon. He mentions a 'dockenspu'l (puppet show) which he attended. For several centuries the puppeteers are traveling artists, Dutch or foreign, performing in public places and fairs, especially in Amsterdam. Fairly representative is the story , in the seventeenth century, of Jan Klaaszoon, a trumpeter in the army of the Prince who, for a living, became a puppeteer. He gave the name to the character of Jan Klaassen, the Dutch Punch. Between the two World Wars the spread of Art Deco style in the 1920’s favours the introduction of "artistic" puppetry. Paul Brann und die Münchner Künstler, Max Jacob und die Hohnsteiner visit Holland. Some puppeteers including Henry Nolles, Eric Kellenbach, Jacq Hazelaar are also teachers and play for a child audience. At the end of this period permanent puppet theatres start. In 1923 Bert Brugman starts De Olijftack and his granddaughter Mariska Brugman in 2011 still continues the tradition in the Nederlands Marionetten Theater in Amsterdam. Guido van Deth starts a theatre in 1936, which opens again in 1946 in The Hague, then is led after his death by Felicia Van Deth till 2000. Cia van Boort, the first woman to practice the profession of puppeteer in the Netherlands, starts performing in 1938 in Voorschoten and then moves to Oisterwijk where she opens a theatre in 1951. Other puppeteers marking this period: Harry Van Tussenbroek; Frans ter Gast and Pieter Van Gelder and their shadow theatres; Jan Nelissen, virtuoso of the hand puppet, the switchman Herman Hoeber, Henk Zoutendijk with his remarkable voice and Wim Meilink, also a teacher, who writes the history of Jan Klaassen. For years we have the Wim Meilink-price for outstanding puppeteers. After the Second World War the discipline flourishes, many theatres open and many puppeteers work together; for example Don and Ly Vermeire, Feike Boschma, Guido and Felicia van Deth, Rico Bulthuis and Frank Kooman. In 2010 Koomans Poppentheater celebrates 50 years in The Hague and his son Arjan Kooman still continues the tradition. In 1954 the puppeteers focus on De Kring van Nederlandse Poppenspelers, predecessor of the Nederlandse Vereniging van Poppenspelers (NVP) founded in 1955 by Rico Bulthuis together with the most professional and amateur puppeteers. In 1980 the NVP becomes the center of the UNIMA Netherlands. Professional growth continues and in the years 1965 - 1975 the Kookurgroep with Henk Boerwinkel (Triangel), Damiet van Dalsum 1967, Otto van der Mieden, Jan de Noord and Camilla Koevoets encourage the breaking of traditions. Some puppeteers come out of the castelet for direct communication with the public. The castelet becomes part of the whole scenography. They play larger venues, with several players together. These are the flowering years of Hinderik Studio, founded in 1967 by Hinderik de Groot. His evocative scenery inspires groups such as Warner en Consorten, Speeltheater Holland and Dogtroep. The NVP is not a union or interest group, so in 1971 a number of professional puppeteers found an Association of Professional Puppeteers, in 1981 named the Association of Professional Groups of Dutch Puppeteers (VGNB), finishing itself in 1994.
Around 1980 There are many collaborations between theatre, music and dance companies, leading to larger puppet theatre offerings, including solo players such as Koos Wieman (1979), Poppentheater Dibbes (Trudy Kuyper) (1977), Stuffed Puppet Theatre, Neville Tranter (1978) Jozef van de Berg , Pieke Dassen and Fred Delfgaauw (Studio Peer) (1981); groups such as Speeltheater Holland (1976), Theater Terra (1978) and TAMTAM objektentheater(1979); permanent theatres such as Phoenix Papier Theater by Ab Vissers and Grimms Papieren Theater by Fritz Grimmelikhuizen, permanent street puppet theatre in Rotterdam including Koos Wieman, Wim Noordergraaf and John de Winter. Hans Schoen begins in 1968 with Popstudio Hinderik and starts his own performances in 1983. He is UNIMA international councillor from 1999 and Chairman of the NVP from 2004 - 2010. Around 1990 The Dutch Puppetry Institute is founded In 1988 and in 1992 is absorbed into the Dutch Theatre Institute (TIN), the knowledge and information centre for professional theatre. Eliane Attinger’s leadership is important, organizing training courses, historical and thematic dialogues and the project On the Road for Dutch Puppetry. New names that appear around this time are Gnaffel Theater (1987), Fa Rieks Swarte (1992), ‘t Magisch theatertje (1996) and Hotel Modern (1997). Training You’re autodidact, learning the trade from father to son, from journeyman to master, or you look at the art of your colleagues. From 1989 - 1992 you can study Object Theater, a professional puppet and visual education at the Theatre School Amsterdam. Occasionally interest groups, festivals, and TIN organize workshops for professionals. The International Puppet Festival in Dordrecht organizes master classes each year: in 1993 the School of the Arts in Utrecht Poppen- en maskerspel and in the year 2011 a course Puppet Animation. Names of teachers at this time include Rieks Swarte, Onny Huisink, Neville Tranter, Elout Hol, Max Verstappen and Bert Plagman. From 1998 - 2009 we have De Proeve , a training and meeting place for puppet and object theatre, led by Marla Kleine. The Proeve builds bridges to other disciplines such as theatre, music, mime, dance, tap dance, art and literature and the older generation puppetmakers pass their knowledge onto young creators. Names in this time are Duda Paiva, Ulrike Quade, Marlyn Coetsier, Meike van den Akker, Tg Winterberg 2003 and later around 2010, Jogchem Jalink, Eveline Agema (Poolse Vis) and Jochen Lange. 2009 sees the beginning of Feikes Huis, a production house under the artistic direction from Eliane Attinger, where young creators make object and puppet theatre after their theatre and arts college courses. The NVP UNIMA organizes a one year course in basic puppetry and one year follow-up, as well as occasional workshops and master classes. Under the artistic direction of Peter Vrijman and teachers such as Trudy Kuyper, Marlyn Coetsier, Servaes Nelissen, Max Verstappen and Neville Tranter. Merel van Gaalen and Trudy Kuyper deliver puppet training for primary school teachers. For vocational training you have to travel abroad. Heritage and puppetry In the year 2011, the collection of puppetry and visual theatre spreads across several different locations: the Museum Rotterdam (Stichting Poppenspelcollecties Dordrecht), the Poppenspe(e)lmuseum of Otto van der Mieden at Vorchten, the Netherlands Theatre Institute (TIN) and the Tropical Museum in Amsterdam, the seven Ethnographic Museums in the Netherlands and various theatrical collections of umbrella organizations, colleges and theatre studies in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leiden. State of puppetry in the year 2011 Puppet theatre has matured and enjoys a clear place in the Dutch theatre system, education, media and leisure industries. The discipline covers the entire spectrum from traditional to experimental puppetry and uses other theatrical disciplines such as dance, mime, music, literature and the modern media. Conversely, other theatrical disciplines and media use the (im)possibilities of puppetry. Much of the demand for youth theatre consists of puppet and object theatre. There are about 300 puppet groups, of which approximately 10% are professional. The NVP-UNIMA has over 250 members; its goals are professional development and exchange of information. It publishes a bimonthly magazine named WP, De Wereld van het Poppenspel, (The World of Puppetry). It is developing an all-round informative website. The magazine Popellum for traditional folk puppet theatre is still appearing irregularly. The NVP-UNIMA organizes three puppetry trainings. In 2009 Feikes Huis started. Eight puppetry groups work with structural government subsidies - they are playing together for over 600 performances, reaching around 180,000 visitors. Other groups receive project grants, venues receive performance grants, schools devote a portion of the culture budget (ten euros per child) to puppetry and many puppeteers own their own bussiness. Kunstfactor, the institute for the active art, supports the amateur circuit. There are four international puppet festivals: in Amsterdam, Meppel, Maastricht and Harderwijk (paper theatre) and many other national festivals. In 2009 the Theatre Institute (TIN) records 85 premieres of professional puppetry and in 2010 it opens a website about the old master Feike Boschma. Most performances are for children, shown in about one hundred and fifty theatres around the country and in more than thirty permanent puppet theatres, many schools and (street) festivals. There is a youth theatre specializing in puppetry in Amstelveen, founded in 1966 by Jan Nelissen. Some groups find outlets for adults to play abroad: Ulrike Quade, Duda Paiva, ’t Magisch Theatertje, Ananda Puijk, Stuffed Puppet Theatre, Electric Circus, Hotel Modern, Speeltheater Holland, Caspar Rapak (Peter Zegveld), TAMTAM objektentheater, Theater Terra, Theater Espace (Judith Nab) and Lejo. Dutch puppetry is internationally respected. The strong visual nature makes it an ideal export item. In 2010, the UNIMA organizes her Councillors Meeting and Extra Congress in Dordrecht. The vitality of the discipline is demonstrated by all sorts of prizes. Eric Steegstra twice wins a Gouden Kalf (the Dutch filmprice) for his puppet films Metro and Rif. Hotel Modern wins the VSCD Mime Prize, the performance Adios of Speeltheater Holland and Het Houten Huis wins the Gouden Krekel, for the best youth theatre production and Servaes Nelissen wins the prize for the most impressive stage youth theatre performance. One puppet theatre centre with a theatre, a training room, a workshop, a museum, a research center as a binding factor for the sector remains a big wish. Another wish is a College for puppetry. We wonder what influence government policy will have on puppetry. In the period 2010 - 2014 the National Government will cut more than 20% on investments in supply, marketing, training, knowledge and information, and secondly, it increases the tax for tickets from six to nineteen percent. This is a major challenge for the adult Dutch puppetry in the next five to ten years. The Netherlands, 30th of October 2011, © NVP-UNIMA, Marla Kleine en Frans Hakkemars, thanks to Ruth van der Steenhoven. If you have any comments, omissions, corrections please mail firstname.lastname@example.org for annual update