French puppet maker and theatrical producer. Alexandre Bertrand was at first a sculptor and gilder, then a puppet maker for his brother Jean. Later, he built puppets for puppeteers at the Saint-Laurent Fair, held yearly in July and August on Paris’s Right Bank (see Fairs). Bertrand then opened a small theatre located in the Impasse des Quatre-Vents, where he presented his own plays with the help of a few assistants, and fiercely attempted to attract his brother’s audience.
In 1690, Bertrand tried to add a children’s troupe to his shows, but the Comédiens-Français opposed him and had his theatre destroyed. Bertrand went back to the Saint-Laurent Fair as his venue. In 1697, he tried to take advantage of the discredited Comédiens-Italiens by settling into the prestigious theatre, Hôtel de Bourgogne, where Racine and Molière were being performed, but was immediately driven out by royal decree. In 1700, he returned to the Saint-Laurent Fair where he directed a troupe composed of actors, dancers, one female singer, and probably Nicolas Bienfait among the puppeteers. Only one of his titles remains, La Défaite de Darius par Alexandre (The Defeat of Darius by Alexander). In 1701, he used puppets to present Thésée, ou la Défaite des Amazones (Theseus, or the Defeat of the Amazons), generally considered the first play by Louis Fuzelier (although Fuzelier never claimed authorship), followed by Les Amours de Tremblotin et de Marinette (The Loves of Tremblotin and Marinette), using live actors.
In 1715, still fighting against the privileges of the national theatres, he presented Molière’s Médecin malgré lui (The Doctor in Spite of Himself), adapted for puppets by Carolet. That same year, Bertrand retired and passed the torch to Nicolas Bienfait who had become his son-in-law.