The Kingdom of Belgium (Dutch: Koninkrijk België; French: Royaume de Belgique; German: Königreich Belgien) is a federal monarchy in the heart of Western Europe, at the crossroads of several cultures. It is composed of three linguistic communities: the largest, the Dutch-speaking Flemish community; the French-speaking, mostly Walloon, community; and the small German-speaking community.
With the position at the crossroads of old Europe, the provinces that were to become
Belgium (officially, the Kingdom of Belgium; Dutch: Koninkrijk België; French: Royaume de Belgique; German: Königreich Belgien) saw the passage of many itinerant troupes of travelling puppeteers. But their performances already existed before we have a recorded history, since the oldest existing representations include a puppet booth and consist of two miniatures of Romans du boin roi Alixandre (Romance of Alexander) by the Flemish master Jehan de Grise produced in 1338-1344. From 1601, we have records of these showmen through trials or local authorizations, however there are only a few references to their equipment, nor are we informed about the audience they tried to attract to their shows, and we know nothing about their repertoire. It is not until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, that the history of puppetry in the country really begins. Among the many itinerant showmen that are noted as present on the occasion of festivals, fairs or markets, some would leave records that are increasingly numerous and precise and their activities could extend over a long period.
Thus in Liège, from 1824 to 1864, Rémy-Victor Boudoux installed his stage in the open air with glove puppets presenting the problems of Poûrichinèle (Faignant-Chinèle) with his wife, Jacqueline. This show, also shown by Rousseau and then by the Talbot booth until 1880, and ended with the appearance of Cacafougna (“Fire-Shitter” or Braggart) appearing through a hole in the booth shocking the onlookers. In Flanders and Brabant, replaying the scenes presented by live actors, the Theater Van Weymeersch visited the villages of 1827-1870 with large rod and string puppets which were very realistically sculpted and richly dressed, performing a very wide repertoire presented by a Harlequin. From the mid-19th century, other theatres, many called “Baraques Saint-Antoine” (St Anthony’s Booths) named after their pièce de résistance, La Tentation de saint Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony) presented their rod marionettes (French: tringles) and string puppetry at Wallonia fairs. Many also showed hell scenes where the damned were burned with cries of “Boil them, Robert!” Their popularity lasted until World War II.
The Style of Permanent Site Puppet Theatres
As a direct consequence of the growing industrial urbanization of the 19th century, in most cities there appeared small permanent site theatres whose activity supplanted the traditional rustic evenings. The characteristics, in harmony with the spirit of the times and places, were similar everywhere. In each district, the puppeteer, simply the first among equals, provided adventures, dreams, heroes, but also criticism and social commentary, performing each evening for the nearby population, often illiterate. Part of a popular initiative, the expression of the popular mind, this theatre evinces the humanism of the common person and lower class.
The repertoire was extensive to suit the daily loyal-following audience. It was largely drawn from popular literature, which explains its relative homogeneity. It included scenes in prose of chivalric romances, religious and historical pieces, cape and dagger material, adaptations of plays, operas and melodramas, stories and legends, and finally actual events, farcical reviews and caricatures or skits on current events. The shows were arranged in cycles and serials. They were originally intended for adults.
The puppets were made of wood, with heads and jointed limbs. An iron rod operated the head that was more or less finely carved while stings moved the hands. Their size, from 60 centimetres to one metre, was based on their social rank.
The theatre, with rudimentary comforts, was at the performer’s home or in a cheaply rented locale, often a cellar. The show was usually at eye level, either directly behind the wings or facing the audience at the back of the room. Almost always, the main puppeteer did all the voices, and assistants merely helped in manipulation, installation of sets and accessories, and musical accompaniment. Manipulation was unsophisticated: this was essentially a theatre of words.
The hero – this is a common feature throughout the entire Belgian repertory – was a spokesman for the common man. He represented the rebellious spirit and outspoken delicious vulgarity that made him an actor in the drama itself and, simultaneously, a chorus and/or foil for all the other characters. He used all the subtleties of dialect and his ultimate weapon was laughter.
The writer Hendrik Conscience in 1820 described the smoky atmosphere of a Poesjenellenkelder (Policinelle’s Cellar) packed with rude sailor customers from the port of Antwerp. After this, the spirit barely changed in many Poesjes or cellars of the popular quarters. The show was robust and lusty, like the workers, sailors and fishwives who attended. Local language, direct and colourful, had a lovely vulgarity. The voices were sometimes handled by several manipulators, merry accomplices who improvised with ease, loving to mock the public and sing ribald songs. Puppets, extremely heavy, had a second rod to manipulate the right hand. The solid wood trunk was extended by a lower body/thigh of padded canvas bagging without any joint. The wood legs were relatively rigid. They performed Ourson and Valentin, Alexis Under the Stairs, Geneviève de Brabant, The Four Sons of Aymon, The Lion of Flanders, Dr Faust, Jean of Paris. The representatives of the people were vodeballen (“rag balls”, rag dolls): smaller and more flexible, and they could sit. These figures were called, for example, de Neus, de Kop, de Schele, de Bult, Belleke Janet, namely: the Nose, the Head, the Cross-eyes, the Hunchback, Beautiful Little Jeannette. For their frequent fights, they had a solid club attached to the right wrist that spared none. When they had dealt with their common enemies, they turned on one another.
At the dawn of the 19th century in Brussels, poechenellen (pochinelles / polichinelles or puppets) took place in the cellars in the passages of Marolles, in the poor area of the city. In 1830, Antoine Genty opened his theatre there. His success was such that subsequent generations of spectators used the name Toone (short for Antoine) for the showmen who succeeded him in a popular dynasty, albeit not related by bloodlines. But the family tree of the Toone theatre obscures the wider view; in 1897, fifteen institutions that had almost the same repertory with the same type of puppets were operating there. These large rod marionettes (one metre, suspended on a rod manipulated from above) showed little size differences for social rank. They remained small because of weight – the body was built of canvas stuffed with straw, wood joints were found in the shoulders, elbows and thighs, but with no articulation in the knees. Their hands allowed the puppet to easily grasp a number of accessories, which were operated by a string. The articulation of the legs in the groin gave a characteristic precise movement. The heads were usually moulded with papier-mâché, decorated with mustaches, beards and matted hair and, often, with glass eyes. Their faces, seeming simple and chubby at first, gained character in the play when moved by manipulators placed three to the left, three to the right behind the scenes. The puppets could therefore cross the stage from hand to hand and indulge in elaborate sword duels. The main performer did not manipulate, but he spoke for all the characters, using a composite language, a crossbred Flemish- and French-approximation, to striking effect. The repertory was as disparate as the language. It included medieval epics, called “armor pieces”: The Four Sons of Aymon, Ourson and Valentin, Vivier and Malgasse… ; operas: La Muette de Portici (The Dumb Girl of Portici, a show which itself helped initiate the Belgian Revolution of 1830), Robert le Diable (Robert the Devil), The Wandering Jew… ; popular serials: The Hunchback, The Three Musketeers, The Tower of Nesle, The Pardaillan …; but also Genevieve of Brabant, Faust, The Two Orphans, The Lion of Flanders; and, finally, farces at the end of the evenings. Woltje (Little Walloon) was the local clown/presenter.
The first spelleke (literally “small game”, i.e. puppet) appeared in Ghent around 1820. About fifty theatres followed until around 1914. These puppets, smaller, lighter and more mobile, were manipulated by a thin rod to the head and two strings for the hands. Pierke (Pierrot), all dressed in white, was so white that he sometimes became Bakker (Baker), and had two additional strings to the right knee and lower back. Strong and cunning, he at first took part only in the farces in the second part of the programme. He formed a trio with the stutterer Karelke den Bult (Little Charles the Hunchback) and Louis de Lapkesdief (Rag Thief). Another stock character was Langenoarme (Long Arm) whose right arm, five times longer than his left, allowed for delivering famous thrashings. The repertoire included The Nativity, The Passion, The Creation of the World, Robert the Devil, The Four Sons of Aymon, Ourson and Valentin, Godfrey of Bouillon, Napoleon, Michael Stogoff, The Two Orphans, Uilenspiegel, Bluebeard, The Lion of Flanders, farces, and current event-inspired shows then popular with the public.
A list of 1902 notes more than fifty theatres operating in Liège and its suburbs. And yet, the first mention of such an establishment dates only to 1860. This was the one directed by Conti, a Tuscan, in association with Frenchman named Talbot. A novel written a little later gives a short description of the place, the play and the repertory of their successor that holds true for their many imitators and competitors. The public gathered daily in the largest room of the house of the showman. The puppets looked at the same time both familiar and hieratic. They were completely of carved wood. Gradually, heads, limbs, armour gained refinement. Only in the case of an absolute necessity was there a hand string. The size of the characters was determined by social rank of the character with the “little” people – commoners – dressed simply with only the head carved. It is from these ordinary people that the face of Tchantchès, the popular comic hero, would soon appear and come to be recognized as the symbol of the Walloon spirit. The repertory favoured Charlemagne, a native of the area: Berthe au Grand Pied (Bertha Big Foot), La Mort de Roland (The Death of Roland), Les Quatre Fils Aymon (The Four Sons of Aymon), Ourson et Valentin, Huon de Bordeaux, Roland furieux (Orlando Furioso). But it also includes the plays Li Nêssance (The Nativity), La Passion, Tristan et Iseut (Tristan and Isolde), La Table ronde (The Round Table), La Quête du Graal (The Quest for the Grail), Jérusalem délivrée (Jerusalem Delivered). Later additions were Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers), Borgia, Les Pardaillan, or: Maître Pathelin, Tâti l’Périquî, Le Lion de Flandre (The Lion of Flanders), Guillaume Tell (William Tell), Les 600 Franchimontois (The 600 Men of Franchmont), La Fleur de sainte Hélène (The Flower of St Helena), La Tentation de saint Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony), Le Tour du monde en 80 jours (Around the World in 80 Days), and of course the many riyoterèyes (topical event farces). Plays could be based on a brief outline or follow a script, or be adapted from a printed book annotated by the players who used the dialogues and transposed the rest of the narrative into action or speech. Two manipulators assisted the showman who spoke dialogue for the characters according to their rank: French bombastic, Liège argot, and finally pure dialect when speaking for Tchantchès and his cronies.
In 1782, there is mention of the presence of religious attendance, once a year, at a performance of Bètième Nivlet. In the early 19th century, bètièmes (a contraction of Bethlehem, designating the institution) would perform The Nativity, The Passion, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Joseph vendu par ses frères (Joseph Sold by His Brothers), Genevieve of Brabant, La Légende de Gilles de Chin (The Legend of Gilles de Chin), but also, subsequently, dramas, melodramas, comedies, and, for young people, tales: Ali Baba, Barbe-Bleue (Bluebeard), Les Sept Petits Poucets (The Seven Little Poucets, or “thumblings”). The bolomes (fellows), hardly more than 50 centimetres, had two strings at the hands and sometimes strings for the legs. The assistants of the main showman would each speak for their own characters.
Quaregnon and Jemappes
These two places of Borinage were known, until 1925, for theatres where the popular hero was Lafleur, with his right leg stepping willingly to battle. The companies presented a limited repertoire: Le Diable dans l’horloge (The Devil in the Clock), The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Les Aventures de la Bande Ratatchou Molèt (The Adventures of Comic Ratatchou Molet), Lafleur dans le Grenier (Lafleur in the Attic).
The Savoy Jorio family, living in the city since 1850, developed the tradition of poriginelles (a variant of Polichinelle) or pores until 1893. The pores had four strings connected to the articulated limbs. The local clown character was Jacques, happy-go-lucky, snide, pugnacious, and inseparable from his club, which was called “Tilogramme”. He would appear in plays like La belle Maguilleonne de la Chine, Genevieve of Brabant, The Four Sons of Aymon, Ourson and Valentin, Victor ou l’Enfant de la Forêt (Victor or The Children of the Forest), Les Ruines du Château noir (The Ruins of the Black Castle), La belle Isabelle, La Béquille vertueuse (The Virtuous Cripple), Le Paysan mort pour ses Dettes (The Peasant Dies for his Debts). Attempts to revive poriginelles in 1909 and 1928 were unsuccessful.
It should be noted that “Bethlehems” are only recorded since the early 19th century, though origins seem much earlier. This is a very distinctive theatrical phenomenon, and perhaps even unique. Twenty-one scenes from the Nativity, from both the canonical and apocryphal Gospels, are arranged on entablatures covered with cloth, beneath which hide children manoeuvring tiny characters along grooves or manipulated by strings and pulleys. The audience moved from scene to scene, guided by a narrator, who was usually an old woman armed with a long stick who interspersed the text with traditional Christmas carols. One can still see this Bethlehem presented each Christmas, at the Musée d’Archéologie et du Folklore in the Rue des Raines (see Nativity Scenes).
At the end of the 19th century, the bourgeoisie discovered these small theatres and ventured there. Now puppeteers were playing for “gentlemen scholars”. The learned and connoisseurs of folklore became interested. But this generation of showmen, lacking initiative, was worn out and just repeated their predecessors, and the result was sclerosis. The great divide of 1914-1918 led to a slow but sure decline. Cinema and other fashionable entertainments attracted a new generation. Theatres played for the children, then they no longer played. Death came: most of the small houses were closed. The museums of folk traditions then undertook the rescue of some of the old equipment and declared it heritage. Often, they hired showmen as civil servants to give performances of a limited repertoire, in a specific “preserved” form.
One would have thought these small permanent site theatres were now frozen and “set for posterity”. However, there were heroic acts of resistance and new enterprises. The Amis de Poesje (Friends of Puppetry) of Antwerp saved the Repenstraat Theatre in an old cellar that had become city property and it was reopened in 1962 by the Van Cakenberghe lineage. In 1935, the Puppet Theatre Van Campen (Poesjenellentheater “Poppenschouwburg Van Campen”) opened with smaller puppets using trompe l’œil decor. In Brussels, the Amis de la Marionnette (Friends of Puppetry) supported the few remaining showmen, and then the Amis de Toone (Friends of Toone) in 1963 inducted José Géal Toone VII, thus ensuring the continuity of the dynasty. In Ghent, the vicar Joris Vandenbroucke (1896-1980) who, in 1927, gave a renewed impetus to spelleke puppets with his Spelleke van de Muide, reviving the spirit and the form and exerting a decisive influence on all Flemish showmen. In Liège, the Amis de la Marionnette supported Denis Bisscheroux who had taken over in 1918 the Théâtre Royal, formerly the Théâtre Impérial, and played regularly until 1961. The theatre, housed at the Museum Tchantchès, was headed since 1967 by Henri Libert for nearly thirty years. In 1929, Gaston Engels, a descendant of earlier professional showmen, developed a large fairground show and toured Théâtre Tchantchès to fairs in Wallonia until 1970. Another descendant of puppeteers, François Pinet, reopened a theatre in 1953 in Bressoux (Liège). His son Jean has continued the family tradition since 1977. At Mons, the Bètième Sôdâr, the last remaining staging, was sold in 1919, and moved to the suburb of Messines where the bolomes have continued to be presented beginning in 1948.
Belgian style rod marionette puppetry has been maintained against all odds. But at the same time, this has initiated a parallel current of research into developing other forms and other repertories. Founded in Brussels in 1929 by Carlo Speder, the Théâtre du Péruchet performed marionette (string puppet) shows for children, playing a repertoire of tales, fables and legends. In 1937, the theatre acquired an international collection of puppets, the foundation of its puppetry museum. In 1940, the Péruchet began to teach puppetry to young enthusiasts. In 1941, Jef Contryn developed in Mechelen his first theatre for glove puppets that has become Hopla and founded the Central voor Poppenspel (Centre for Puppetry) which included the School voor Poppenspel (School for Puppetry) and Mechels Stadspoppentheater (Mechelen Municipal Puppet Theater), renamed DE MAAN in 1995.
We must first acknowledge two small professional troupes of glove puppeteers who were champions of travelling shows. Les Pupazzi, created in 1933 by Jean and Roger Vermeire, focused on caricature and humour (The Vampire of Brusseldorf). After World War II, they specialized in “advertising”-type street parades (promoting commercial brands, preventing accidents … ) until 1954. In 1947, Karel Weyler founded Pats Poppenspel, which popularized and spread throughout Flanders Suske en Wiske (British title: Spike and Suzy), characters from the cartoonist Willy Vandersteen. He created the small figure Pats who triumphed in 1955 in the early Flemish television.
The real touring shows were the result of changes in both show organizers and public tastes that was less and less homogeneous. From 1960, research and thinking expanded. Belgium looked to the practices of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, usually via the large intermixing at the international puppetry festival, Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionettes, of Charleville-Mézières in northern France. Thereafter, new theatres appeared using the appropriate type of puppet for the aesthetics of each show, without any limitations: glove, rod, marotte, shadow theatre, animated object theatre, but only rarely the traditional rod marionette or string puppets. These troupes would also gradually assimilate all the technological advances of the general theatre – sound, lights, image projection, etc. They would usually do collective work, so the show was often group creation, rarely from one author. Also live actors and puppets were integrated. Not having a fixed location, these companies, which often used live action in front and animations behind, would play most of the time on tour and primarily for a public of children and youth. Without realizing it, they renewed the popular tradition of the travelling show with the advantage that a successful show could be presented during one or more seasons. Another new advantage was the recognition of these companies by the government.
The more or less classical style glove puppet groups like De Spiegel in Antwerp (founded in 1965 by Felix Van Ransbeeck; since 2003, run by his son Karel), Théâtre des Zygomars in Namur (founded in 1965 by Hubert Roman), and Theater Taptoe in Ghent (founded in 1968 by Luk De Bruyker and Freek Neirynck) have progressively integrated multiple techniques and very diverse materials. These pioneers mixed actors, figures, dancers, images and video creations in increasingly elaborate productions. Others followed suit, exploring new facets for each production, including: Théâtre des Gros Nez, based in Perwez (Walloon Brabant) and founded in 1974 by Marcel Orban; Ultima Thule in Antwerp (since the past few years in Ghent, founded in 1981 by Joris Jozef; since 2001, directed by Wim De Wulf); DE MAAN in Mechelen (founded in 1948 by Jef Contryn as Mechels Stadspoppentheater and, since 1995, led by Willem Verheyden); Créa-Théâtre in Tournai (founded in 1982 by Francis Houtteman); Figurentheater Vlinders & Co in Beveren (founded in 1983 by Ronny Aelbrecht); Théâtre des Quatre Mains in Beauvechain (founded in 1984 by Benoît de Leu); and Theater Froe Froe in Antwerp (founded in 1986 by Marc Maillard). Théâtre du Tilleul in Linkebeek (founded in 1981 by Carine Ermans) is dedicated to shadow theatre. Compagnie Gare Centrale in Brussels (founded in 1984 by Agnès Limbos) focuses on object theatre. Tof Théâtre in Brussels (founded in 1986 by Alain Moreau) uses very small puppet characters. Street theatre, already developed by the Magic Land Théâtre of Brussels (founded in 1974 by Patrick Chaboud), is also practised by the Compagnie des Chemins de Terre in Verviers (founded in 1988 by Geneviève Cabodi). Musician-puppeteers like Chris Geris of Molenbeersel, with musical accompaniment, has jigging puppets dance to the tunes.
Two permanent stages for adults continue “traditional” Belgian rod marionettes. In Brussels, José Géal, seventh of the popular and adoptive Toone Dynasty, settled permanently in 1966 two steps from the Grand-Place (Grot Markt), the central square of Brussels. His theatre, which has become the Théâtre Royal de Toone, carries on the Brussels folklore tradition. His son Nicolas is the current Toone VIII. In Liège, the Théâtre Al Botroûle was inaugurated in the 1972-1973 season; it sees itself as open, dynamic and evolving. Jacques Ancion, with his expanded, wide repertory with new vitality, in fact shares in the old spirit of the original puppetry.
Among the profusion of initiatives that are often of limited duration, there are some companies of extreme longevity: the lively Théâtre Triboulet in Brussels run since 1951 by Léo Dustin (d.2011), educator, author of Âmes de Chiffons (Souls of Rags, 1971); next there is, Poppentheater Magie in Ghent founded in 1953 by Henri Maeren and his son Jean-Pierre with the classic character Pierke. In addition, in 1984 ‘t Spelleke van Drei Kluite spun off from the Theater Taptoe with Freek Neirynck and Luk De Bruyker, producing satirical shows.
Puppets and Television
The producers of early television quickly called on puppeteers. Suzanne Gohy and Jean Gérardy animated rather generic puppets from 1946 to 1947. Then the pioneers Karel Weyler, Louis Contryn, José Géal, Marcel Orban, the Galopins, wrote, created characters, built, played and manipulated in series for young children. After Bonhommet and Tilapin, Pats and other characters like Plum-Plum, there are additional ones like Malvira (Magic Land), Blabla (by Benoît de Leu) that take the limelight. Raymond Goethals, football coach, Salvatore Adamo, singer (Ronny Aelbrecht and Bruno Bosman – Figurentheater Vlinders & Co) were, instead, a satire of football for adults. Recordings were made by Toone and Al Botroûle who also produced a studio TV movie, Tchantchès contre J.R. (Tchantchès Against J.R., 1984). Jan Maillard produced the series Carlos et Co, Liegebeest, and Grote Boze Wolfshow. The BRT (Belgian Flemish Television) did recordings and broadcasts of productions by companies like Mechels Stadspoppentheater, Poppentoneel Festival and Theater Taptoe.
Puppets and Literature
The showmen adapted serial novels (cloak and dagger tales, for example) as they had earlier done with the “medieval” literature transmitted by word of mouth. Two Flemish historical novels of Hendrik Conscience (1812-1883), De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (The Lion of Flanders, 1838) and De Boerenkrijg (The Peasants’ War, 1853) have all been mounted on rod marionette stages from 1850. It is thanks to the novel, La Légende d’Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak (The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak, 1867), a masterpiece of Charles De Coster (based on the 14th century Low German figure Till Eulenspiegel), that this prankster hero of the Reformation wars of the 14th century entered in many theatres. Maurice Maeterlinck had to wait for the post-World War II (1940-1945) period to be interpreted, and then sparingly. Michel de Ghelderode is also played very little and seems to be the monopoly of Toone. Contemporary performers “discover” the fantastical work of Jean Ray (pen name of Raymundus Joannes de Kremer). The character Tchantchès, entered in literature in 1887, is the eponymous hero of a drama for actors (1931). He is the centre of a play by Liège author Marcel Fabry, Au Temps o Berthe filait . . . (At the Time when Bertha Spun … ) presented in Paris with glove puppets by Gaston Baty in 1948. Writing for puppets remains an occasional literary activity for these writers. The few playwrights like Louis Contryn, Freek Neirynck, or Jacques Ancion, who have devoted themselves to puppets, are first and foremost stage practitioners.
There are no institutional teaching of puppetry in Belgium. The Centrale voor Poppenspel (Centre for Pupptry) included the School voor Poppenspel (School of Puppetry), and was founded in Mechelen (Malines) in 1970 by Jef Contryn and his son Louis. The school has strongly influenced the development of puppetry in Flanders. Since 2002, the name has changed to Het Firmament (The Firmament) and it is now a centre for the cultural heritage of the performing arts in Flanders, which maintains a focus on puppetry along with other arts. Het Firmament continues to organize workshops, but has expanded its activities to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of puppetry in Flanders.
A permanent space for exchanges between the Netherlands’ puppet theatre companies, between artists, the public and the international world of puppets, objects and masks was established in Ghent (Gent). This is the Europees Figurentheatercentrum (EFTC), (European Centre for Figure Theatre), which houses a library, a video library, a poster collection, and archives. It regularly organizes thematic exhibitions, touring or on-site, also shows and other activities. Here, the journal, Figeuro, was published from 1993 to 2003.
On the French-speaking side, it is important to mention the Centre de la Marionnette de la Communauté française de Belgique (Puppet Centre of the French Community of Belgium) in Tournai, which promotes the art of puppetry, also the Espace Hubert Roman (library), the documentation centre and the collection of puppets created in Tubize (Brabant Wallon) by the Section francophone of the Belgian Centre of UNIMA in collaboration with the city of Tubize, the Centre culturel de Tubize and the Association “On tire les Fils” (One pulls the Strings/Strings are pulled).
Support from Public Entities
The Flemish Community of Belgium, Vlaamse Gemeenschap, since 1993, approved the following companies: DE MAAN, Theater De Spiegel, Theater Froe Froe and Ultima Thule, Theater Taptoe and Alibi Collectief. However, the last two no longer (as of 2012) receive subsidies from the Flemish Community.
The financial support of the French Community of Belgium, Communauté française, vis-à-vis the youth theatre is older and more diverse. The Ministry supports the dissemination of performing arts (music, dance, theatre) for shows for the general public (listed in the Catalogue “Art et Vie” Art and Life) or for separate programming in schools for children or adolescents (listed in the Catalogue “Spectacles à l’école” Shows at School). Two sections of the catalogues “Art et Vie” and “Spectacles à l’école” are dedicated specifically to puppet theatre. Furthermore, the French Community subsidizes the Francophone Section of the Belgian Centre of UNIMA.
The German-speaking Community of Belgium, Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft Belgiens (the third of the three federal communities of Belgium), supports the few German-speaking companies in the country and FIGUMA, a trilingual puppet festival held annually in Eupen as part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.