Swiss theatre company established in Neuchâtel in 1970 by Dominique Chédel, Reto Gisep and Yves Baudin. Born in Neuchâtel in 1955, Baudin was trained at the Séminaire de recherche théâtrales (theatre research workshop) directed by Patrice Thompson. Subsidized by the city and the state of Neuchâtel since 1987, the Théâtre de la Poudrière (Gunpowder Theatre) has a permanent space in the old Müller Brewery.
Alternating between productions for children and puppet theatre for adults, the company is in constant search of new and interdisciplinary methods in the field of puppetry. According to Yves Baudin, the puppet is “like an evocation of our own world where the human being struggles between the image and the object. It is the focus of both social and artistic concerns and provides the potential for new ways to write scripts for the theatre”. In the adaptation in French of Achterloo by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, which first took place on February 24, 1994 at the Théâtre de Neuchâtel, puppets were scaled to nature, made visible by for example the splitting into two of schizophrenic characters.
Yves Baudin is both puppeteer and director of all of the company’s productions. He also writes most of the scripts produced, important among which are: L’Attrape-Nigaud (A Trap for Fools, 1975), Carnaval (Carnival, 1978), Sixtus (1981), Le Mystère de Joseph Noon (The Mystery of Joseph Noon, 1984), Ménagerie Fine (The Delicate Menagerie, 1996), Plus haut que la mer (Higher than the Sea, 1999), Malinche Circus, un rêve mexicain (The Malinche Circus, A Mexican Dream, 2004). The latter, along with Cashinahua (1986), Nativité (The Nativity, 1988) and Mythos monde premier (Myths of the Ancient World, 1990), and adaptations of several novels and myths, were co-scripted with Ahmed Belbachir.
Since 1970, the Théâtre de la Poudrière has created more than twenty productions and performs regularly in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe: Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania. Since 1995, the company, in collaboration with the Centre culturel Neuchâtelois (Neuchâtel Cultural Centre) and the Théâtre populaire romand (Popular Theatre of French-speaking Western Switzerland), organizes the Semaines internationales de la marionnette (International Week of the Puppet) held in Neuchâtel for a mainly adult audience. The tenth edition of the festival was held in 2005.
Yves Baudin is Artistic Adviser to the Centre culturel neuchâtelois and teaches at the École de théâtre amateur (School of Amateur Theatre). He was co-president of the Association des marionnettistes suisses (Swiss Association of Puppeteers) from 1990 to 1996. He has written widely on scripting for puppets; his articles have appeared in professional journals such as Figura, Mimos, Das andere Theater and Double. In 2003, Baudin received the Astej Prize from the Théâtre suisse jeune public (Swiss Theatre for Young Audiences).
- Baudin, Yves. Théâtre de la Poudrière, un parcours. Hauterive: Éditions Gilles Attinger, 1998.
- 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)
- Topf, Hartmut. Théâtre de la Poudrière, un parcours. Hauterive: Éditions Gilles Attinger, 1998.