Swiss Theatre Award 2017
Grande dame of puppet theatre
Margrit Gysin was born in Liestal in 1949 and attended the Ecole Jacques Lecoq theatre school in Paris from 1967 and kindergarten teacher training college in Bern from 1970. After training part-time as a special needs teacher she began using puppetry as a therapeutic aid before specialising in puppet therapy. Since 1976, she has devoted herself entirely to puppet theatre, founding what is now the Figurentheater Margrit Gysin together with Michael Huber under the name Fahrendi Bühni. In addition to working as a freelance puppeteer, since 1980 she has lectured on theatre education, puppetry and creativity at various schools of art and sciences in Switzerland and abroad, at locations including Berlin, Stuttgart and Prague. She is also the artistic director of the two-year training course in puppetry run by Weiterbildung Figurentheater.
Her best-known creations include a reworking of the novel “Momo” (1979), “Die Wurzelkinder” (1982), “Die Sterntaler” (1988) and “Mimi und Brumm” (from 2000). For Margrit Gysin, theatre is about telling stories. Her audiences are both children and adults, and she performs works mostly based on fairy tales that nevertheless deal with universal human issues – otherness, meaning and solidarity. After her first stage show as actor and storyteller in 1988’s “Dona”, she continued in the same vein. When she moves figures and objects around on herself, she becomes at once player and playing surface, infusing the material with life through her voice and emotions and thus adding her own very personal expressive power to the performances. With more than thirty productions to its credit, Margrit Gysin’s puppet theatre has been invited to appear at numerous puppetry festivals around the world, in countries as far afield as India, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tanzania, and has also received awards for its work from international puppetry festivals in Zagreb, Mexico and Vienna.
“Margrit Gysin is the grande dame of puppetry and a pioneer in the field. She has been working away at her unique artistic cosmos for almost five decades. She tells existential stories about life’s trials and tribulations, conjuring consolation from coat pockets and from between book covers. In her theatre, even the smallest thing has a great and magical effect. She invites children into her world, and helps us rediscover a sense of wonderment we thought lost for ever.”
Kaa Linder, jury member