French-speaking Belgian playwright although he came from a Flemish family. Michel de Ghelderode, pseudonym of Adémar Adolphe Louis Martens, produced between 1924 and 1926 five works in a genre he had a particular fondness for, the Brussels puppet. Le Mystère de la Passion de Notre-Seigneur Jésus Christ (The Mystery of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ), La Tentation de saint Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony), Duvelor ou la Farce du Diable vieux (Duvelor, or the Farce of the Old Devil), La Farce de la Mort qui faillit trépasser (The Farce of Death Who Almost Died), Le Massacre des Innocents (The Massacre of the Innocents), works allegedly “reconstructed” from the memories of old showmen but actually written by himself, demonstrates his taste for mystification.
Little appreciated by Brussels theatres at the time, Ghelderode was welcomed to Vlaamsche Volkstooneel (VVT, Flemish Folk Theatre), the popular theatre open to new trends under the leadership of its director Johan de Meester. La Farce de la Mort qui faillit trépasser, translated into Flemish, was created in 1925. In 1927, came the Images de la Vie de saint François d’Assise (Images of the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi). However, despite the success, the adventure ended in 1932 with the demise of the company.
In 1934, the Brussels puppeteer from the popular tradition Toone IV, Jean-Baptiste Hembauf, created La Passion, which takes up a 15th century practice that offered a condemned man a reprieve if he could withstand the crucifixion. The farce of Duvelor was staged at the Théâtre de l’Enfance (Theatre for Children) by Jose Géal in 1960. These plays were also produced at the Théâtre Toone VII, which then created Pitje la Mort (La Farce de la Mort . . .) (Death Pitje The Farce of Death … ), La Tentation de saint Antoine, and under the title of La Nativité, Le Massacre des innocents. Le Siège d’Ostende, Épopée militaire pour Marionnettes (The Siege of Ostend, Military Epic Poem for Puppets), written in 1933, was not published until 1980, and created for puppets by Gérard Vivane in 2000.
(See Belgium, La Tentation de Saint Antoine.)