French puppet company based in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. Founded in 1967 by Jean-Luc Penso and Catherine Larue (1954-1999) after their apprenticeship in Taiwan with Li Tian-Lu (Li Tianlu), Théâtre du Petit Miroir (Little Mirror Theatre) specializes in presenting Chinese plays in French with glove puppets or shadow figures, accompanied by Chinese music.

Although these productions have been translated and are performed outside their usual cultural context, the company seeks to respect the tradition and not westernize it; they retain the spirit of Chinese dramaturgy and engage an audience normally not familiar with the special conventions of this form of theatre. As the company’s director, with an assistant, Jean-Luc Penso also performs the key role of the storyteller.  

Originally a touring company, in September 2000 Théâtre du Petit Miroir opened its own house at Issy-les-Moulineaux. The company performs classical Chinese plays, such as Le Singe blanc et la princesse en éventail (White Monkey and Princess Iron Fan) and Le Singe blanc et le roi-dragon (White Monkey and the Dragon King), based on the 16th century Chinese novel Xiyou ji (Journey to the West) written by Wu Chengen. The company has added a Western and international repertoire drawing upon tales and legends from around the world, such as Aladin and Fox Story. The theatre has a valuable collection of puppets and shadow figures.

(See also China, France, Monkey King.)


  • Lecucq, Evelyne, ed. “Des Chines et des casse-tête”. Interview with Jean-Luc Penso. Les Fondamentaux de la manipulation : Convergences. “Carnets de la marionnette” series. Vol. I. Éditions Théâtrales/THEMAA, Paris, 2003.
  • “Renaissance et déclin en Chine” [Renaissance and Decline in China]. Interview with Jean-Luc Penso. Cahiers de théâtre jeu. No. 51, Montréal, 1989.