French puppeteer, actor and stage director. Alain Recoing acquired valuable experience as the result of his association with the French puppet company of Gaston Baty in 1948, which brought him mastery of the Lyon style glove puppet. With his two partners, Maurice Garrel and Claude-André Messin, he founded in 1950 the Compagnie des Trois (Company of Three) which, for two years, was connected to the cabaret L’Écluse in Paris. Next he created a weekly programme, Martin-Martine, for television, and with his puppets appeared in several great dramas.  In 1957, Recoing founded his own company for the creation of La Petite Clef d’or (The Little Golden Key) by Alexei Tolstoy, adapted and staged at the theatre of the Vieux-Colombier by his friend Antoine Vitez. There followed a long collaboration of the two men, at the Théâtre du Quotidien of Marseilles, at the Théâtre des Quartiers d’Ivry, and also at the Théâtre National de Chaillot.

Alain Recoing has created more than fifty shows during his prolific career. These have been for adults and for children, produced and performed in France as well as in other countries, in schools and in the streets, in operas and in national drama theatres. In 1976, La Ballade de Mister Punch, written by his son Éloi and staged by Antoine Vitez, launched his new company, the Théâtre aux Mains Nues (Theatre of Bare Hands). Various texts by Éloi Recoing have been the basis of his father’s creations: Le Grand-père fou (The Mad Grandfather, 1981), La Tentation de Saint Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1982), Manipulsations (1984), La Conjoncture de Babel (The Babel Situation, 1987 and 1989). In between, he has presented plays by other authors: Hans Christian Andersen, Kateb Yacine, Cervantes, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling …Alain Recoing is the author of La Tragique Histoire et la fin lamentable du docteur Jean Faust (The Tragic History and Lamentable End of Dr John Faust) based on the popular German tradition; numerous theoretical and historical articles on his art (for example in the chapter on puppets in the Histoire des spectacles of the Encyclopédie de la Pléiade, Gallimarde, 1965), and he has taken a tireless militant role within the successive re-groupings of puppeteers.

Aside from his discovery of contemporary applications of the glove puppet tradition (open staging, the body-stage), the work of Alain Recoing has also been a determining factor in the area of pedagogy. He has taught at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette (ESNAM) in Charleville-Mézières, France, and at the University Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle. Most significantly, since 1995, he has created and run a structured training programme in the local Parisian seat of the Théatre aux Mains Nues – a place of creation and diffusion – which has become an important platform for the training and support of young artists.  

(See France.)