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Woltje, the “ketje” of Brussels, the mascot of the Théâtre Royal de Toone (Brussels, Belgium). Rod marionette. Photo: Nicolas Géal

Woltje

Country

Belgium

Belgian puppet. This hero of Brussels theatres seems to have appeared with Toone the Elder. His name comes from the word Waaltje (small Walloon) in honour of the workers who came to build the town’s battlements around 1600. Dear to the hearts of spectators, Woltje, with his round and pink face, was adopted by all puppeteers. From one scene to another, he changes only his costume. As a rod marionette with a second rod in his right hand, thus more robust in cape and dagger/sword plays, he is a perpetually exuberant, resourceful wag with a savoury language full of vulgarity. Often found in the role of a servant, Woltje is used as a useful, down-to-earth player in all types of dramas.

Starting from 1964, José Géal, known as Toone VII, reduced the size of the puppet and lowered the age of the character. Thus rejuvenated, Woltje becomes an impertinent urchin, a true ketje (street kid) representing the lower class neighbourhoods of the capital. His love of puns is always present in the entire repertoire and often even holds an important role in it. His performances include Le Cid, Cyrano, Faust and Geneviève de Brabant (in which he plays the son). Woltje has become the true mascot of the Toone theatre.

(See Belgium.)