The oldest and best known of the Swiss German itinerant troupes, the Looslis Puppentheater was established in 1955 by Peter W. Loosli (Hilterfingen, Berne, 1919-2011) and his wife, Trudi Loosli-Ziehlmann. Peter Loosli had earlier trained at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zurich.
The Looslis’ first performance was in Lucerne in 1948, an adaptation of Doktor Faust – Das Puppenspiel vom Doktor Faust. Their second production, The Soldier’s Tale – Die Geschichte vom Soldaten – by Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, was staged in 1951 as part of the Luzerner Musikfestwochen (Lucerne Festival). In 1955, there was their adaptation of Antoine de SaintExupéry’s Le Petit Prince – Der kleine Prinz – a play that remained in their repertoire until the end of their career as puppeteers. They next created several productions for string puppets, among which were: Pinocchio, Doktor Faust, Cabaret Loosli; and their glove puppet shows included Rumpelstilzchen (Rumpelstiltskin), Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty) and Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood), among others. In 1969, they staged a new version of The Soldier’s Tale in collaboration with the Musikkollegium of Zurich, working for the first time “in full view”, without a castelet stage or booth. The Looslis next produced several shows based on Max Bolliger’s stories for children, in particular Die Kinderbrücke (The Children’s Bridge), with music by Caspar Guyer.
In 1988, the Looslis’ son Tobias joined the troupe. He had earlier created a street circus and worked as a magician-illusionist both in Switzerland and abroad. In 1990, Tobias made all the puppets for the company’s new version of Pinocchio.
In 1998, Tobias and his wife, Lois Loosli-Salsbery, took over the reins of the theatre with the production of Muggestutz der Haslizwerg, based on a story by Susanna Schmid-Germann. The show was staged with shadows and tabletop puppetry and the music was by Ernst Bruni. Peter and Trudi finally retired in 1999 and the Loosli troupe changed somewhat from its hitherto itinerant character and began to concentrate on productions for a younger audience.
The dramatic style of the productions, however, continued to be as meticulous in the working of the puppets as in the story telling, much as it was in the early days of The Little Prince when Peter Loosli, dressed in black and standing on the stage, was as much if not more storyteller as manipulator, illustrating his text with the play of the puppet. Several of the Loosli productions have been successfully developed into books with audio companions (CDs or cassettes).
- Bolliger, Max. Trudi und Peter W. Loosli. Wetzikon: Paul Weber, 1973.
- Kotte, Andreas, Simone Gojan, Joël Aguet, and Pierre Lepori, eds. Theaterlexikon der Schweiz/Dictionnaire du théâtre en Suisse/Dizionario teatrale svizzero/Lexicon da teater svizzer. Berne: Chronos, 2005. (In German, French, Italian, Romansh)