French puppeteer. Originally trained as a graphic designer, Philippe Genty began his career with a trip during which he discovered puppetry throughout the world. His film, Le Tour du monde des marionnettes (Puppets Around the World), received the prize for originality at the 1965 Bucharest Festival.

A creator of different manipulation techniques, Philippe Genty established his own company in 1968, and performed at the Bobino, Olympia, and Casino de Paris music halls with acts that have remained famous such as Pierrot and Les Autruches (Ostriches). In the mid 1970s, he also became famous with the television series, Gertrude et Barnabé (Gertrude and Barnabas).

While his work was at first influenced by cabaret, it was already possible to see future forms, especially in the technique of black theatre, where by controlling the use of side beam lighting, the puppeteer gives the illusion that manipulated objects have a life of their own.

Starting from 1980, his regular creations for the Théâtre de la Ville (Paris) followed by highly successful world tours (Le Monde de la marionnette de Philippe Genty Philippe Genty’s World of Puppetry, a television show by Jim Henson, 1985), brought a new dimension to his artistic production. In Rond comme un cube (Round Like a Cube, 1980), Désirs parades (Parades of Desires, 1986) and Dérives (Drifts, 1989), the movements of materials and forms created fantastic illusions during performances in which theatrical elements had great flexibility. The puppet as object progressively expanded into a scenic object for which Genty used dancers and a choreographer (Mary Underwood) to put into motion.

Genty continued to immerse himself into fantasy worlds with Ne m’oublie pas (Don’t Forget Me, 1992), Voyageur immobile (Motionless Traveller, 1995), Passagers clandestins (Stowaways, 1996), up until the creation of Dédale (Maze) in the main courtyard of the Palais des Papes at the 1997 Avignon Festival.  

His fame brought him to undertake projects such as Océans et Utopies (Oceans and Utopias) for the Lisbon World Exposition in 1998, and Le Concert incroyable (The Incredible Concert) in the Grande Galerie d l’Évolution (Great Hall of Evolution) at the Paris Museum of Natural History in 2001, in which the show was created from a dramatization of the space (filling the site with sound, light, and projected images).

Philippe Genty rarely uses text in his productions (Zigmund Follies, a recreation in 2000 of the Sigmund Follies of 1983), confirming Genty’s penchant for journeys into individual psychoses and the subconscious. These preoccupations can again be found at the heart of Lignes de fuite (Vanishing Points, 2001), where the “puppet” language is based on a manipulation of space and its perception, as well as on anthropomorphic figures (doubling and mirror games), in a theatre of imagery and illusion.

(See France.)