Dynasty of German puppeteers who worked in Dresden during the 19th and 20th centuries. The German Albert Apel (?, 1847-c.1906) founded in 1878 the Apelsche Marionettentheater (Apel’s String Puppet Theatre), building upon the inventory of Franz Finzenz Lorgie and Heinrich Rau (late 18th century). From 1892, the Apel family played in theatre buildings they owned in Dresden. While Albert Apel carefully maintained the traditional repertoire, his son Heinrich (1875-1920) wrote several plays himself, drawing on regional legends as well as current regional events. From 1905 to 1907, Heinrich Apel toured Europe. In Dresden, the Apelsche Marionettentheater had become an institution and many other puppeteers used their plays. Heinrich Apel was particularly famous for his mechanical puppets (see Theatrum Mundi).

Gustav Heinrich Apel (1895-1975), son of Heinrich Apel, continued the artistic success of his father. He increased the repertoire to include more local legends, but also operas and operettas that students of the National Opera in Dresden sang. In the early years of the German Democratic Republic he tried to preserve part of the traditional repertoire while adapting Russian fairy tales for his stage. From the 1960s, he performed only with variety-show puppets (Varieté-Marionetten).

The puppets and props from the theatre are now in the Puppentheatermuseum im Münchner Stadtmuseum (Puppet Theatre Museum in the Munich City Museum) and in the Puppentheatersammlung Dresden (Dresden Puppet Theatre Collection).

(See Germany.)