Belgian puppet theatre. Founded in Brussels in 1929 by Carlo Speder, the Théâtre du Péruchet continues to perform its marionette shows for children. It has an extensive repertoire of productions based on tales, fables and legends.

In 1937, the theatre acquired an international collection of puppets from which it created the first museum of puppets in Belgium; the museum was also among the first to be established in Europe. In 1940, the Péruchet set up an academy of puppetry which began to teach young enthusiasts. Many puppeteers emerged from this academy after the war, among them André Moons and Franz Jageneau. Working with cartoonist, Georges Prosper Remi (1907-1983), better known as Hergé, Jageneau created the first Tin Tin puppet, which features in the “Music Hall” performances of Théâtre du Péruchet to this day. The Péruchet is the only theatre in the world permitted to play Tin Tin in Tibet.

In 1958, Franz Jageneau succeeded Carl Speder as director of the theatre. Under his leadership (1958-2003), the Péruchet experienced a renewed burst of activity. In 1968, he was joined by his wife, Bizerka Assenova, a student of Czech master puppeteers Jan Malík and Erik Kolár. In 1972, theatre Péruchet presented one of its classic performances, La Chèvre de M. Seguin (The Goat of Monsieur Seguin), at the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes (World Puppet Theatre Festival) in Charleville-Mézières in France.

Théâtre du Péruchet organized, on the occasion of the Brussels Exposition Universelle in 1958, the Festival Mondial de la Marionnette in which many well-known personalities of the puppet world participated: Josef Skupa from Prague, the Salzburger Marionettentheater, the Compagnie des Comédiens de Bois of Jacques Chesnais, Theater Guido van Deth, the Hohnsteiner Handpuppenspiele of Max Jacob, and many theatres from within Belgium. Subsequent international puppetry festivals were hosted by the Péruchet in 1969, 1970 and 1971.

The Théâtre du Péruchet and Musée International de la Marionnette de Bruxelles moved to its current location, a 19th century farmhouse and gardens in the commune of Ixelles. It has become a hub for puppet theatre. Over the years, the collection of puppets has grown, and in 1983 a special wing for the museum was constructed. Today the international collection has over 2,000 puppets, including puppets from India, Indonesia, Japan, China, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Franz Jageneau’s son, Dimitri Jageneau, is the current manager and artistic director of the Péruchet. The theatre continues to perform its folk tales, legends and classics every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday to an audience of children and adults.

Théâtre du Péruchet is the recipient of prestigious honours, including first prize for Les Quatres Saisons (1987) at the International Festival of Ascona-Lugano. The theatre was given the title of the “Théâtre Royal du Péruchet” in 1993 by the city of Brussels. And, in 1997, Franz Jageneau received the rare title of “Chevalier des arts et lettres” from France.

(See Belgium.)