Belgian theatre located in Liège, founded in 1972 by Françoise and Jacques Ancion. After practising various forms of animation with writers and visual artists from 1960 and manipulating all types of puppets, Jacques Ancion, known as Thorix, a sculptor born in 1942, reconnected in 1964 with some old rod marionette showmen. The canonical texts of the Liège repertoire made it possible to engage with almost all its genres with an extreme economy of means. It is in any case a theatrical form that promotes liaisons with the poorer classes in expressing the truth of their condition. After a laborious acquisition of old material for the 1972-1973 season, Françoise (1947-1997) and Jacques Ancion set up their little theatre, Al Botroûle (literally “In the Navel”, or at the core) in the old Hocheporte quarter, and surmounted the challenge of giving new life to the adult repertoire. The theatre, enlarged in 1974, presented Le Mort qui vit (The Living Dead), La Tentation de Saint Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony), Li Naissance (see Nativity Scenes), La Passion (The Passion); episodes of the great Charlemagne cycles, Tristan et Iseut (Tristan and Isolde), La Table Ronde (The Round Table), La Quête du Graal (The Quest for the Grail), and adaptations of old regional tales. In 1976, they embarked on the series of Ubu plays by Alfred Jarry.

Jacques Ancion sculpts, builds, revitalizes the playing and brings the stage to life. He writes, manipulates and gives voice to the wooden characters, preserving the traditional language. In 1978, the family business became professional and took on actors, musicians (Julos Beaucarne), directors (Jacques Delcuvellerie, Jan Dvořák), scenographers (Jacques D’Hondt, Pierre Kroll) and assistants (Étienne Pichault) for new productions such as La Nonne sanglante (The Bleeding Nun) by P. Delémarre,  L’Opéra du Gueux (The Beggar’s Opera) by John Gay, La Mandragore (The Mandrake) by Machiavelli, Victor by Pixérécourt, Tåtî l’pèriquî (Tati the Barber) by Édouard Remouchamps, Johannes Doctor Faust (Doctor Johann Faust), L’Enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Child), Ubu pape (Ubu Pope) by Robert Florkin. After 1998, with Tatiana Falaleew, other productions included: La Patate inconnue (The Unknown Potato Strange Spud?), Les Miracles de la Fuite en Égypte (The Miracles of the Flight into Egypt), Charlemagne sacré Empereur (Charlemagne the Holy Emperor), L’Enfance de Merlin (Merlin’s Childhood).

Throughout Europe, as in Quebec and Japan, Tchantchès-Bonète, the old paradoxical accomplice of Al Botroûle, proclaims: “Ma tringle, c’est ma liberté!” (“My rod is my freedom!”)

(See Belgium.)