Touring Swiss company established in Locarno by Santuzza Oberholzer in 1986. This seventeen-year-old student of applied arts was fascinated by the Sicilian pupi. She went on to study weaving and made her debut as a puppeteer in street theatre, first in Mexico, then in Ecuador where she also attended the theatre school at the University of Quito.

The years spent in Latin America developed in her an interest in the folk tales and mythology of the various countries she visited and which eventually formed the basis for the majority of the performances staged by the Teatro dei Fauni (Theatre of Fawns). Stories that give pride of place to female characters and their instinctive approach to life appear often in the theatre’s repertoire, which is, with very few exceptions, suitable for an audience of all ages.

The company has about thirty productions to its name, using a variety of techniques, but mainly puppets manipulated in full view and shadow puppets that often share the stage with actors and musicians. The Teatro dei Fauni often collaborates with actors, mime artists, dancers, visual artists, photographers and other puppeteers. There are three principal elements that constitute each performance: research into new materials to make the puppets; a different way each time of theatrical presentation; and a fondness for myths, their archetypes, their magical powers that remain a constant and from which the Teatro dei Fauni (Fawns) draws its poetry and its name.

Among its most important productions are Ghezz, il ramarro (Ghezz, the Green Lizard 1989), L’upupa e il principe (The Hoopoe and the Prince, 1991), Baba Yaga, la strega dell’est (Babayaga, the Sorceress from the East, 1997), played to the music of Modest Mussorgsky, L’uccello del paradiso (The Bird of Paradise, 2000), and Metamorfosi (Metamorphosis, from Ovid to Hermann Hesse, 2004).

The company has presented more than a thousand performances in about fifteen countries. Since 1999, it has organized a summer festival in Locarno entitled “Il Castello Incantato” (The Enchanted Castle).

(See Switzerland.)


  • 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)