French puppeteer. Son of a magician who established the puppet booth (French: castelet) at the Buttes-Chaumont in Paris in 1890, Gaston Cony succeeded his father in 1910. He also inherited from Louis Lemercier de Neuville his entire collection of pupazzi. This perfectionist puppeteer was full of contradictions. He frequented Guillaume Apollinaire, Maurice Maeterlinck, and Mac Orlan, and was a friend of Pierre Albert-Birot with his new theatrical ideas. In 1921, Cony produced Scène birotechnique (Birotechnic Scene or Stage) written for Albert-Birot, where the characters of Matoum and Tévibar meet Guignol, Gnafron, Madelon and others. However, he never diverted from the conservative technique of using glove puppets in a traditional way.

Gaston Cony was one of the first to think in terms of the pedagogical values of puppetry, founding in 1917 the Association Marionnettes à l’École (Puppetry in the School Association), and he even made his art a direct basis for an ideological message when, in 1914, he transformed his show into a “Guignol de la guerre” (Guignol for the war). With the patronage of the President of the Republic, Raymond Poincaré, forty military plays were performed for young audiences to ingrain into them hatred of the enemy.

Gaston Cony was a tireless ambassador promoting puppetry through conferences, publications, and gatherings. His castelet (puppet stage) and a few of his puppets are preserved at the Gadagne Museum in Lyon. His son, Gérard, continues the family tradition at the Buttes-Chaumont.

(See France.)