Union Internationale de la Marionnette

Non-Governmental Organization affiliated to UNESCO

In memoriam

Professor Jane Taylor (1956 - 2023) - South Africa

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Professor Jane Taylor, a great researcher, writer and supporter of puppetry. Jane died unexpectedly but peacefully at her home in Cape Town on Wednesday 6th September 2023. A full obituary will be posted soon. Jane was well known for her work with Handspring Puppet Theatre and wrote the groundbreaking play ‘Ubu and the Truth Commission’.

Penny Francis (1931 - 2023) - United Kingdom

British writer, editor, lecturer, activist and advocate for puppetry. Trained as an actress, Penny Francis discovered puppets through her husband, actor Derek Francis, with whom she staged four (amateur) string puppet (marionette) shows in a 30-seat theatre built in the garden of their Barnes, London home in 1961. Penny Francis volunteered her services to the puppet organizations in 1970 to assist in the establishment of a national centre; she discovered a talent for advocacy and went on to be one of the founders of the Puppet Centre Trust in 1974, a high-profile and effective organization dedicated to the promotion and practice of puppetry in all its forms.

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Farnaz Behzadi (1949 - 2023) - Islamic Republic of Iran

Farnaz Behzadi, a veteran Iranian puppet artist who was one of Iran’s most innovative puppeteers, died on the eve of the 19th Tehran-Mobarak International Puppet Festival in Bandar Anzali (northern Iran).

Born in 1949, Farnaz Behzadi received a diploma in interior design from the Amin al-Douleh Conservatory in Iran, a diploma in painting and sculpture from the Miss Perez Private School in Switzerland, and a bachelor’s degree in puppet theater from the University of Vincennes in Paris.

Behzadi directed several puppet shows and performed in France, USA and India, and worked as a set and costume designer for Iranian television stations before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. After the revolution, she concentrated on directing puppet shows and making and designing puppets and masks.

Behzadi introduced the French company Les Grandes Personnes to Iran and invited their artists to the country. Together they held many workshops throughout Iran with the support of Mobarak UNIMA, teaching and expanding the design, construction and performance of giant puppets in Iran.

She has been a board member of the Iranian Association of Puppetry and UNIMA-Iran for several periods.

She had considered writing the book “Creation and Life with Stage Puppets” as her puppet testament, which she has left as a memory for puppet lovers and students.

Margareta Niculescu (1926 - 2018) - Romania

Romanian producer, stage director and teacher. Margareta Niculescu is considered the most important Romanian puppet theatre personality from the 1950s to the late 1990s. She studied directing at the IACT (Institutul de Artă Teatrală şi Cinematografică, Institute of Theatre Arts and Cinematography) in Bucharest, Faculty of Theatre. As the Artistic Director of Ţăndărică (today, Teatrul de animaţie Ţăndărică) from 1949 to 1986, she turned the theatre into a laboratory of artistic creativity. In 1978, her work was recognized and awarded the European Erasmus Prize along with Peter SchumannYves Joly and Fratelli di Napoli (see Natale Napoli).

Distinguished with many prizes and medals she has been awarded in Romania and France, Margareta Niculescu has through her many activities, innovations, and stage directing contributed to the creation of a modern aesthetic and education for the arts of puppetry.

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Henryk Jurkowski

Henryk Jurkowski (1927 - 2016) - Poland

Polish historian and theoretician of the puppet theatre, theatre critic, playwright and university professor, Henryk Jurkowski was graduated and he was responsible for the puppetry section, as officer in the Polish Ministry of Culture, being professor in the puppetry schools in Poland, in Wroclaw, in Białystok.

He has taught, as a guest professor, in many puppet theatre schools. Amongst his plays for puppets, several ones got great success: Polish Popular Nativity Scene (1969), The Old Polish Trypticon (1972: Judith and Holofernes, The Prodigal Son, The Martyrdom of Saint Dorothy).

Henryk Jurkowski was Secretary General from 1972 to 1980. During his mandate, he restructured the UNIMA, he created a publication (The UNIMA’s Information), as well, he established specialized Commissions. He was co-founder of the Institut International de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières; he was Vice president (1980-1984), then President (1984-1992). In 1992, he was made Honorary President of UNIMA.

Author of many books, studies and essays on puppetry published in many languages, Henryk Jurkowski was editor-in-chief from 1994 to 2002 of UNIMA’s World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts and scientific councillor for the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre (1994-1999).

Ferdinand Veike

Ferdinand Veike (1924 - 2015) - Estonia

In 1958 Ferdinand Veike was elected the vice president of the Soviet Centre of UNIMA. He held the post until 1984.

In 1980 – 1984 he was the member of the Council of UNIMA.

He has also been the member of the Board of UNIMA Estonia.

On the UNIMA Congress in Rijeka in 2004 Ferdinand Veike was announced an Honorary Member of UNIMA.

He has passed away on August 12, 2015, at the age of 90 years.

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Miguel Arreche

Miguel Arreche (1945 - 2013) - Spain

Former UNIMA Secretary General (2000-2008), Miguel Arreche was a great friend of puppetry world, He gave all within him to serve UNIMA. Amongst many of his achievements ,during his term with former President Margareta Niculescu he managed to bring alive WEPA, the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts and regenerate our organisations destiny with intelligence and rigor. With Idoya Otegui, he was able to fulfill one of his dreams: the creation of the TOPIC, one of the most beautiful puppet center in the world, the result of continuous work and unremitting efforts.

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Mireya Cueto

Mireya Cueto (1922 - 2013) - Mexico

Puppeteer, writer and playwright, recognized as the great ambassador of Mexico in puppetry art, her work for the children’s literature and the promotion of puppet theatre, the development of radio and TV programs for children is recognized in Mexico.
In February 2012, she has received the Medalla Bellas Artes in recognition of her commitment dedicated to the theatre more than 70 years.

Read the tribute published in La Hoja del Titiritero

Brunella Eruli

Brunella Eruli (1943 - 2012) - Italy

Brunella Eruli was the editor of the review PUCK La Marionnette et les autres arts, now published in collaboration with the L’Entretemps publications, since its creation in 1988, when Margareta Niculescu invited her to take up this responsibility.

Brunella Eruli, a specialist in the contemporary and avant-garde theatre of the 20th century, lectured at the University of Sienna (Italy). She greatly contributed to the reintroduction of the arts of puppetry into the history of live theatre, giving them their rightful place and legitimacy.

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Magda Modesto

Magda Modesto (1926 - 2011) - Brazil

Woman writer, researcher in animation art and historian of puppet theatre, she was a founding member of ABTB-UNIMA Brazil and member of UNIMA. As director of animation, she presents several shows. She gathered a rich collection of folk puppets, organising in the world several important exhibitions. She was a major figure of the brazilian puppet theatre.

Hubert Roman

Hubert Roman (1937 - 2010) - Belgium

Puppeteer, important actor of theFrenchspeaking section francophone of UNIMA Belgium, Hubert Roman was member of UNIMA Executive Committee during several years.

Dezsö Szilàgyi

Dezsö Szilàgyi (1922 - 2010) - Hungary

Director of puppet theatre, playwright and essayist, il managed several UNIMA publications: Figur and Spiel im Puppentheater der Welt (1977), Die Welt des Puppenspiels(1989).

Sirppa Sivori-Asp

Sirppa Sivori-Asp (1928 - 2006) - Finland

Actress, metteur en scène and artistic director of the Green Apple Puppet Theatre in Helsinki. She was membre of UNIMA since 1972 and president of UNIMA between 1992 and 2000.

Jacques Félix

Jacques Félix (1923 - 2006) - France

Puppeteer, founder of the “compagnie des Petits Comédiens de Chiffon”, founder of Institut international de la marionnette and École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette (ESNAM), he also founded the World Festival of Puppet Théâtres organized now every two years in Charleville-Mézières. He was UNIMA Secretary general (1980-2000).

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