personne

Dennis Silk

Country

Israel

First Name

Dennis

Surname

Silk

Birth

London, England (1928)

Death

Jerusalem, Israel (1998)

Israeli poet, playwright and essayist. Dennis Silk, born in Great Britain, emigrated to Israel in 1955 and settled in Jerusalem where he worked for the Jerusalem Post. His puppet plays are written in a singular style that evokes a magical world in which the improbable takes place as though it is normal, and where people and objects come together as equals. Silk acknowledges the influence of Heinrich von Kleist, Edward Gordon Craig and Oskar Schlemmer.

Dennis Silk published poetry and plays in English. His approach to theatre leads to unusual and amusing situations with subtle touches of humour. Many of his scripts and thoughts on theatre have been published in William the Wonder Kid: Plays, Puppet Plays, and Theatre Writings (1996). Particularly interested in the theatre of objects, which he defined as a theatre where “things are granted a higher dramatic status”, Silk developed his concept of “object theatre”. Silk inspired many Israeli puppeteers. During the 1970s, he taught puppetry at the Department of Theatre Studies, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1976, Denis Silk played the title role of Mr. Charles’ Chair, a production in which the main characters are a folding chair and a man of the 1820s. In 1977, Silk played in Billy Doll with Hadas Ophrat and Hanni Halib. In 1979, The Swedish Dish was directed by himself and Chu Fa Ching Ebert (Fa Chu Ebert) who developed stylized movements for the figures. That same year he played The Investigations of Mr. Charles, object theatre with household items and furniture. Associated with Fa Chu, Silk directed The Courtship and Marriage in 1984, and, in 1987, Life Isn’t All Bike-Clips, five interlinked acts in a tabletop puppetry play for adults using wind-up toys. In 1994, he recorded a video performance, Bandage.

Dennis Silk is also the author of Billy Doll, The Head, William the Wonder-Kid, The Apprehension of Mr. X, James’ Games, Confused Toilet, Lives of the Magicians, Switched Heads, When We Dead Awaken and The Doll’s House. Silk’s ideas on theatre were also published in Conjunctions (Nos. 9 and 11), Animations, Present Trends in Research of World Puppetry: A Collection of Papers (ed. Marek Waszkiel, Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, 1992), and in Puck.

(See Israel.)