Kevin J M Keane

Heinrich von Kleist

On the Marionette Theatre

While spending the winter of 1801 in M…, I chanced there of an evening, in a public garden, upon Herr C., who had recently been engaged as lead dancer at the opera and was proving very popular with the public.

I said to him that I had been surprised to see him, on several occasions, no less, in a marionette theatre that had been thrown together on the market place to entertain the riff-raff with short dramatic burlesques strung together with short song and dance routines.

He assured me that the puppets’ pantomime gave him much pleasure, and he made no attempt to hide his opinion that a dancer who wanted to improve could learn much from them.

As this comment, by the way he made it, appeared to be more than just mere whim, I took a seat beside him to ask about his grounds for making such a peculiar claim.

Kleist, Heinrich von. Über das Marionettentheater. Berlin: Berliner Abendblatt, 12–15 Dezember, 1810. Print.

Translation: On the Marionette Theatre, 2015

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