French puppeteer. A professional architect, Marcel Temporal was also an engraver, sculptor, stage designer, master of drawing and a journalist, with an active and lifelong passion for puppets.
In 1929, UNIMA held its first Congress in France, and this event allowed the non-conformist Parisian architect to rediscover an art that he had abandoned in 1911 after a catastrophic tour. In 1931, he created the Compagnons de la Marionnette, an association that brought together a number of avant-garde artists and amateurs of the international art world of the inter-war period. In 1932, he founded his Petit Théâtre d’Essai (Little Experimental Theatre), at first on Rue La Quintinie, Paris, then, in 1936, on the Square Desnouettes. He mounted shows for adults: La Farce de Jehan le ménetrier (The Farce of Jehan the Fiddler) by Alfred Sauvy; Edmond et Calixte ou la Légende des deux amants (Edmond and Calixte, or the Legend of Two Lovers), an opera by Madeleine Perissas; Le Pêcheur et sa femme (The Fisherman and His Wife), adapted from the Brothers Grimm.
In 1936, for the first time, Marcel Temporal ended the secrecy surrounding the puppeteer’s practice by arranging a course in manipulation in his neighbourhood, under the aegis of the Compagnons. This open approach he continued by writing Comment construire et animer nos marionnettes (How to Build and Animate Our Puppets, 1942), the first technical book in French. He trained many well-known artists: Frédéric O’Brady, André Tahon, Claude and Marcelle Quiévreux, Colette and Claude Monestier (of Théâtre Sur le Fil), and as a pioneer, he continued his work by bringing the awareness of puppetry to the teaching profession. He opened up puppetry to teachers who were then inaugurating the concept of pre-school education in France. He organized the Festival International de Marionnettes (International Festival of Puppets) at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life) held in Paris in 1937. Tradition and modernity were presented side by side via some thirty shows for adults and children from seven countries, including Palestine. The event constituted a model for future festivals.
The Marcel Temporal troupe called itself Les Bonshommes Tempo. After World War II, the association of the Compagnons presented four shows – by Géza Blattner, Yves Joly, Jean Gallien, and Jean-Loup Temporal (Marcel’s son) – before it disappeared, to be replaced by other professional and amateur groups.
Marcel Temporal continued his own work, giving classes and workshops, writing various works and articles, including Textes et animatextes pour marottes et marionnettes (Texts and “Animatexts” for Marottes and Puppets) and Une forme, cent têtes (One Form, a Hundred Heads, 1949), without forgetting the new medium of television, with the first live broadcast on the history of puppets in 1950.
- Temporal, Marcel. Comment construire et animer nos marionnettes [How to Build and Animate Our Puppets]. Paris: Bourrelier, 7 editions from 1938 to 1973.
- Temporal, Marcel. Une forme, cent têtes [One Form, a Hundred Heads]. Presses de l’Île-de-France, 1949; rpt. 1952 and 1962.