Dutch puppeteer. Henk Boerwinkel studied graphic arts and illustration at the College of Arts in Amsterdam. At the age of eighteen, he built his first string puppets. After experimenting with different animation techniques, in 1963 he created Figurentheater Triangel with the assistance of his wife, Ans. At the end of 1971, they became professional puppeteers and set up their theatre in a large farmhouse in Meppel (north-east Netherlands). Until September 1991, they played their show under the title Twenty Short Acts, and then, continuing up to 1995, under the title Metamorphoses. Henk and Ans Boerwinkel have successfully played in numerous international puppet and theatre festivals, where they received many prizes and awards. Performances were given in all capital cities and in hundreds of cities across Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Australia.
In an era of popularity of visible puppet manipulation, Henk Boerwinkel made the artistic choice to preserve the old style of classical puppet theatre, in which the puppets kept their apparent autonomy. He used various kinds of puppets and masks, representing the human existential condition in the most surreal situations. His characters are coloured grey to represent a world of depressed or bewildered individuals detached from the world. Speaking about his art, he stated, “I cannot conceive of the puppet as an illustration of a text or music. With my puppets I try to communicate a certain atmosphere, mood or a sensation to the spectator just by means of rest and motion: long forgotten dreams, visions from the subconscious full of magic and poetry, always connected with life and death.”
Henk Boerwinkel made three more shows: the mask trilogy, The Son of Mother Earth in 1977, which was performed in combination with Trees of Life from 1983 to 1991, and the miniature show-box performance, Trio for Pierrot, performed in 1987.
In 1991, his wife Ans stopped performing. Henk made the decision to combine his favourite numbers into one programme, the Metamorphoses, which he performed with the assistance of Charlotte Puyk-Joolen.
Henk Boerwinkel stopped touring in 1995 after 2,700 performances. In 1996, he created the Magisch Theatertje (Little Magic Theatre) in Maastricht (south-east Netherlands) with Charlotte Puijk-Joolen (Artistic Director Magisch Theatertje). Since that time he only performs in the Magisch Theatertje, with time to create new puppets and masks.
Since 1998, his son, Jeroen Boerwinkel, continues the tradition with his own theatre of movement, Theater van de Droom (Meppel).
- Friedman, Gary. “Puppetry News Blog”. http://africanpuppet.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-work-of-henk-boerwinkel-revived.html Accessed 15 May 2015.
- Henson, Jim. Jim Henson Presents the World of International Puppeteering. “Henk Boerwinkel”. (11 Nov. 1988) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2242059/. Accessed 15 May 2015.