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Friday, 9 October 2015

Why Pulchinella's Cellar? And More Kensington Purchases

People have asked me where I got the name Pulchinella's Cellar, which is also the name I use when I do the very few shows at which I sell or exhibit, as well as the name of this blog. I have to take you back to my childhood for this.

The marvellous old building at the end of the photo is "Het Dinghuis", in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Built in 1470, it was the parliament building for the town and area when it was first built. Over its many centuries, it has housed a very wide variety of functions indeed; currently it is the Tourist Aid office for the city (VVV).

See the little door under the staircase? When I was a child, this door led to a magical place for me, a professional puppet theatre known as the "Poesjenellekelder", which operated as a children's theatre as well as an adult political theatre from 1953 to 1967.

My father was a press photographer, and had attended Art College; he knew a lot of people in the art field, both through his job and his education, people who were and still are well-known in South Limburg. He got me backstage once, and I will never forget it! The walls and ceilings were hung with puppets of all types and sizes; hand or glove puppets, marionettes, rod puppets and shadow puppets. They sat on shelves, hung from the ceilings, and their miniature props were visible everywhere. I probably first got infected by the love of all things small here.

Most of the shows my sisters and I saw were re-tellings of fairy tales.The stories were magical; we sat on backless benches, in the cellar of a 500-year old building, and the normal world disappeared for us for about an hour or so,  and for us children the puppets were alive and real. Almost sixty years later, my memories of this place are still magical.

I actually took a puppetry course in university (Fine Arts Program), because of my memories of this magical place. While working as a children's library assistant, I performed puppet shows at work. My children also had simple puppets when they were young, and I made puppets with children I babysat as a teenager. When I was looking for a good name for my business and my blog, the name of the theatre came to mind. The word "poesjenelle" is derived from Punchinello, of Commedia del'Arte fame; you may know this character better as Punch, from the British puppet shows. The word "kelder" is Dutch for cellar. Now you know....

While we're on the subject of puppets, here are some hanks of viscose wigging I picked up at the Kensington Dolls' House Festival; I had a lot of grey and white wigging, and a huge hank of auburn, but was sadly lacking in other hair colours for younger characters. I love viscose hair, as it handles beautifully, and has just the right amount of shine. There are also 2 packages of fine cotton lace - the third one isn't visible - for use with the dollhouse people I make. It is so difficult to find real, cotton lace; the one shop I used to get it at in the US closed years ago, so I was very happy to find this in the UK.

This is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada; the leaves have turned, the heat is coming on in the house, and the geese have been flying over in their hundreds. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada!

1 comment:

  1. Precioso el edificio Het Dinghuis y aún más bonita tu historia y todos los recuerdos,que maravilla saber fabricar títeres y mira,ya sabemos de donde viene el nombre de tu blog!!!
    Ahora ya podrás poner un bonito cabello a tus jóvenes personajes!!!