Last weekend I went to Munich for a little pre-wedding party — which I stubbornly keep calling my stag party, but most of my friends keep referring to as ‘staggette’, ‘bachelorette’ or ‘hen do’. The feminist academic that thrives in me rebels to the point of furious obsession against the diminutive ‘-ette’ or moniker ‘hen’, for all the reasons my insistence on replacing them with the robust, independent ‘stag’ implies. Whatever we call it, my thriving feminist academic was appeased by being surrounded by some of the most interesting, independently minded, intelligent and creative lady friends I’ve ever made. They, plus a great deal of fizz, a Eurovision contest, heaps of awesome food and a Pfaffenhoffen of yarn, made this the best pre-wedding party weekend EVER.
But before all that, there were puppets.
I wanted to hang out with my lovely Susanna who lives in Munich before things got started, so arrived a couple of days ahead of everyone else. Of course, ‘things getting started’ is a bit of a relative term. Almost as soon as she got off work that evening, we snapped up some bottles of Prosecco and Susanna kept me gently inebriated for the next four days. Bleary pictures of us all being beery to come!! Plus, stay tuned for Wollmeise…
In the meantime, PUPPETS! I took in a whole exhibit worth at the Münchner Stadtsmuseum while Susanna was at work on the Thursday.
The Stadtmuseum has a lot of puppets. It turns out Munich is a bit of a haven for puppetry. It’s a fantastic exhibit; half of the puppets on display you sort of look at and think Oh yeah! I’d forgot about those… I’m not sure why I was so surprised, but puppets come in so many shapes and sizes and designs! Like those carefully welded marionettes above. If you get close enough, you can see the joints and how they would move.
There were delicate 17th century French puppets, with exquisite paintwork and intricate clothes.
And shadow puppets, which I used to make in Brownies! They had some incredible examples of Chinese and Indian shadow puppets, but the lighting that surrounded them didn’t work for the camera in my phone. These were set behind an illuminated screen and you could just make out the manipulating rod made out of fine reeds.
Further into the exhibit, there were modernist puppets, including some absurdist and some Dadaist renditions of puppetry. These were my favourites, especially the octo-puppet in the bottom right of the picture.
The best of all, though, appeared right when I was thinking, There haven’t been any robots, and there straight ahead was an entire case of these freaking AWESOME robot puppets. Most of them are marionettes, but some were almost like the shadow puppets, with arms and legs manipulated by rods rather than strings — of course, some of them were probably conventional robot-robots and worked with a remote control, but that’s all puppetry really is, isn’t it? An object that moves without us seeing who’s causing the action?