A sheaf of arts

Visual objects and puppet theatre is a genre of genres in which multiple languages criss-cross, proceeding from visual arts, music, dance, opera, literature, circus, lighting, robotics, poetry, acting and so on. And a good part of contemporary theatre incorporates elements of this genre.

Painters and sculptors have always felt attracted by animated figures. Futurism took it on board, as did other twentieth century avant-garde movements. In Catalonia, the artists Rossinyol, Utrillo, Casas and Pere Romeu became interested early on by Catalan puppet and shadow theatre. Salvador Espriu was inspired by the puppet aesthetic to create certain works, such as Primera Història d’Esther, in a similar line to Valle-Inclán.

In the 1970s, Joan Miró worked in collaboration with La Claca to create the puppets of Mori el Merma. Joan Brossa was also fascinated by puppets, and his object poems shared a similar world.

Opera and puppets have always had a close relationship, ever since Haydn and Mozart’s time. El Retablo de Maese Pedro by Manuel de Falla was first performed with puppets by Hermenegildo Lanz, whose grandson, Enrique Lanz, recently presented his own version of the piece in the Gran Teatre del Liceu, using gigantic figures. Other companies, too, have worked in the field of opera, such as Per Poc, directed by Santi Arnal; the Lleida Puppet Centre, directed by Joan-Andreu Vallvé; and La Fanfarra, in collaboration with the composer Joan Albert Amargós. Creative artists such as Carles Santos have always pushed the limits, searching for a language which treats image, objects, spatial composition and sound on equal terms. La Fura dels Baus is the other large company which has explored the world of opera from the perspective of puppetry.


Object theatre is, today, one of the avenues most explored by researchers in the performing arts. In a certain way, it responds to our necessity, living in an environment that is increasingly demystified and banal, to give life and meaning to the emptiness of the objects which surround us.

When we dedicate time and attention to them, objects become charged at once with a subjectivity which we secretely give them. And from simple, dead shells they turn into beings full of life and meaning. Our freedom to project on to objects opens unexpected fields of folded dimensions, which patient questioning allows us gradually to unfold.