Return Home page

The Théâtre des Ombres

The Théâtre des Ombres, exists since 1988. Members of this company are also members of the Théâtre de la Voie Lactée company which has existed in Toulouse since 1979. This troop has performed 15 plays including "The hunting of the Snark (Lewis Caroll)", "The cherry orchard (Anton Tchekov)", "Les Acteurs de Bonne Foi (Marivaux)", "The conference of the Birds (Farrid Uttaïr)", "Sodome et Gomorrhe" (Jean Giraudoux), "A last evening at the Carnaval" (Goldoni), "Il Campiello" (Goldoni), "Letters told through the looking glass (Lewis Caroll)", "Homer's Iliad & Odyssey".


For "The conference of the Birds" a small shadow theatre was needed for the telling of some persian tales. Christophe BASTIEN THIRY who has done pen drawing and copper etchings for the last 20 years (see his website), was given the role of puppet maker and performer.

The princess Labam

Christophe made his first cardboard silhouettes for the The Conference of the Birds and in the process discovered how fascinating shadows are, not only for young children but also for adults. Henceforth he has created and adapted stories, cut out and articulated characters and scenery; directing the "putting into shadows" of this world.

Shadow theatre by its very nature imposes cerain constraints on its performers and it is by overcoming these or indeed using them to their own advantage that the performers create their best shows. These shows are naturally poetic in nature.

The technique used follows the European school of silhouettes rather than coloured puppets : the characters are cut from cardboard or plastic and are highly articulated. They are held by metal rods perpendicular to the screen. The texts of the stories are adapted by Cécile BOURRIER who has the role of story-teller in the shadow performances.

Rupert INGRAMS, an Englishman joined the Théâtre de la Voie Lactée company in 1991 for the The Conference of the Birds and a year later became a shadow theatre assistant at the Avignon Festival in 1992. Returning to England a year later he created his own shadow theatre and his first show "Princess Labam" which he performed in pubs and schools around London and at the Avignon Fringe festival in 1993. By 1994 he was also working with Kabutar Shadow Theatre in London.

The Emperor's News Clothes

As a result of its participation in the 1992 Avignon Festival the troop was invited to give six performances of 3 of its plays in São Paulo in december 1994. In Brazil there is no shadow theatre tradition so public interest and media attention was high : press conferences, 4 television crews invited for the premiere, reported on every brazilian channel and an invitation to the country's most famous talk-show.

The Théâtre des Ombres, given new life by the presence of Perse PEET came back to the Avignon Festival in 1996 with 3 new creations : ‘The Black Cat & the Chinaman’, ‘A Young Frog’, ‘The Fisherman & his Wife’. 11 performances were given with audience figures up to 40 per evening. The show was subsequently booked for performances in Paris and in the fourth Children's theatre Festival organized by the city of Toulouse for December '96.

The Black Cat and the Chinaman

In 1997, Marc ROSSI joined the troop as puppeteer and helped put the finishing touches to The Black Cat and the Chinaman.

In July 1998, the Théâtre des Ombres was again present at the Avignon Festival with amongst other things a revamped version of ‘The Fisherman & his Wife’.

In '99 Rupert INGRAMS came to live in Toulouse and now works there as an English teacher. From '99-2000 he worked on creating a 5 minute puppet sequence for "Homer's Odyssey" given at Avignon Festival 2000 by the Voix Lactée company.

In '99 Christophe BASTIEN THIRY was given 12 chinese shadow puppets brought to him by a friend from China, made from transparent animal skin which has been coloured and very finely cut..

The red-headed Brigand

Using these chinese puppets and with help from his children, Christophe wrote a story which became a 15 minute show, The Red-headed Brigand. This show was performed at Avignon 2000. Jean Pierre GRIZOU composed the music and songs for the show.

A Young Frog

For their sixth participation to the Festival d'Avignon 2002, the Théâtre des Ombres starts the creation of 2 new shows . Christophe BASTIEN THIRY creates "The Son of Croguennec" : this tale dates back from the old time of the Breton Islander fishermen with sailor songs. This show will be the opportunity of veritable innovations such as nocturnal scenes like starry night  glimmered by lighthouse and above all the use of white shadows (for the first time as far as we know!). These white shadows are forms held by sticks and are able to cross themselves.

The Son of Croguennec : white shadows

The second show created for the Festival d'Avignon 2002 is from Rupert INGRAMS : it is a very free adaptation of the Perseus myth. 'Behind the shadow screen The Tale of Perseus becomes a burlesque epic with witty dialogue'.

The Tale of Perseus : the king Polydectes

For this Avignon edition the company has been enriched by  Dominique HEULET, Sophie GEFFROY as story-tellers and puppeteers and aslo by Dominique CHAUSSON with his diatonic accordion.

In  2003, one of the goals was to test a new place in Toulouse and to judge our capacity to gather an audience for 10 performances at tbe begining of July. The chosen place is wonderful : un the vault of the Saint Aubin church. For a premiere it was a big success : more than 700 people came. See the page devoted to that event.

Le pêcheur et sa femme

2004 is the year devoted to "China in France", so a lot of cultural structure had the god idea to think about the "Chinese shadows". In July we tested again a set of performances in Toulouse under the vault of Saint Aubin with a new program. In October, we were invited to take part to the 11th edition of the Incanti Festival in Turin.

Les trois petits cochons courent toujours

In 2005, some changes! Rupert has decided to withdraw from the company to create his own copmany. We encouraged his project. Virginie RUEFF came then to joinn and complete the company. Virgine has a long experience in puppet practice and in the show creation. This yer was rich also in events : we were invited to take part to a festival in Ankara : “Little Ladies Little Gentlemen”. The israelian theatre BUBIMA ordered a complete show to take part to the project 'Suitcase theater'. A new show has been created by Marc Rossi and Sophie Geffroy : Les trois petits cochons courent toujours : this show has been very appreciated at the third edition of the Théâtre des Ombres at Saint Aubin in Toulouse. The show "Le chemin de croix" still in progress encounter the interest of Antoine d'Ormesson (music composer) who created an oratorio starting from the text "Le chemin de la Croix" of Paul Claudel.

Le Chemin de croix

In 2006, the company took parts to 2 major events. We have been invited to take part to the program of the "Berner Tanztage" in  Bern (Swisserland) and then to the second edition of the Marathon des mots de Toulouse.

              The company in Bern at the Kulturhallen Dampfzentrale - june 2006                            The company in Toulouse at the Théâtre National de Toulouse - june 2006

In 2006 we created 2 new shows given to the 4th edition of the Théâtre des Ombres in Saint Aubin (Toulouse) : "Les Ridicules" et "Morceaux de piano".

Les Ridicules                                                                 Morceaux de piano

In 2007 we have been invited to take part to the 2007 Global Festival Puppet Theater in Kaohsiung (Taiwan).

A scene of the company Tung Huan of Kaohsiung

In 2008, the compagny has been invited twice in  Middle East, in February in Amman invited by the Cultural Center  of the French ambassy in Jordan, in April in the United Arab Emirates by the Alliances Françaises of Dubaï and Abou Dabi.Meanwhile, in March we performed shadow workshop and show in Monaco.

Saint Aubin 2006

Return . Home page  . Contact