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An Seidenen Fäden: Clown Gustaf ist 50

by Studio Albrecht Roser

This is a celebration of Gustaf and his ensemble's jubilee. It has 64 pages (larger than A4) with 27 coloured photos, and a few others in black and white all by Ingrid Höfer, together with a good number of sketches by Roser. The text is in both German and English (the previous books are in German only) and includes an essay, an interview with journalist Evelyn Lattewitz, and concludes with a few congratulatory notes by notable puppeteers from around the world.

Albrecht Roser recognises the value of the time he spent training with Fritz Herbert Bross who created his marionettes according to a system described by him as "artistic-technical unity", where the puppets are designed according to scientific principles, rather than traditional empiric methods. Complicated movements are reduced to the simplest common denominator in the operation of the control so that manipulation becomes intuitive and therefore allows total concentration on the performance. Anyone who has watched a performance of the cabaret and has handled the marionettes will confirm that Roser's figures seem almost to work themselves and have hardly any uncontrolled moments as a result of the kinetic knowledge employed in their construction. Roser maintains that the puppeteer need no longer spend all his time practising in order to control the awkward movements of his marionettes. "A good violin can only resound in all its beauty when it has been skilfully made, when the strings are touched with the right bow, and when the trained musician can make the individual voice of the instrument be heard."

He speaks about the marionette being currently out of fashion, because compared to other elements of puppet theatre it requires considerable time and effort, whereas the trend today is to produce things quickly and with the least possible exertion. He talks of plans for the future, a puppet theatre school with the emphasis on string puppetry, and a book on technique which could be used for teaching. We look forward to that, meanwhile here is a beautiful souvenir and a taster of what is to come.
Ray DaSilva


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