Abstracted from report by Laurie Webb:
PREETZER PAPIERTHEATERTREFFEN No.14
Fri. 14th - Sun. 16th September, 2001
As the great grandson of W.G. Webb and grandson of H.J. Webb, I came along to get the flavour of the Toy Theatre world preparatory to writing up the Webb Family History. . . .
We were amazed at the variety of performance from the most traditional to the most modern. The two Swedish ladies from the Gripes Modellteatermuseum used the most exquisitely designed and coloured traditional Danish sets to present Aladin but told the story from in front of the stage in modern dramatic style and even used a second tiny toy theatre at the side to illustrate the magic lamp and its genie. Altogether this was lively storytelling of genius. On the other hand the Swedish (Danish) Kungsbacka Mini Teater's stage completely obscured the two performers leaving only the list stage with bright modern sets for the Bremer Musicians. . . The Danish Svalegangens Dukketeater's corner stage was also all-encompassing. . . and the Princess With Dirty Knees sets were beautiful. The other Danish company's retelling of Adam & Eve used black and white gloved hands to effect. . . Apparently Ab Visser's Dutch showing of Gretchen was unexpectedly more revealing and controversially daring, or so I overheard. The other Dutch show I saw was Vischmarkt Teater's Faust opera. This was a leap into the future with a musical score composed on two computer programs. . . with the main emphasis being the music rather than the drama. Unfortunately, the only one of the six German productions I saw was Papiertheater Polidor's Aschenputtel, which displayed good speech and dramatic movement.
I leave until last the British and French performers. . . These I feel were quite the best, because although using and developing the same traditional toy theatre techniques as the rest they had their emphasis firmly placed on drama rather than on presentation. . . Movement flowed without hesitation and the adlibbing of Peter Baldwin and Joe Gladwin was a joy, with nothing allowed to hold up the action. I feel they were able to do this so deftly because they knew the dialogue by heart and thus were in full control. Their range of voices and accents was wonderful and the waves of applause at the end and laughter in the middle showed the audience's appreciation of true professionals at work. Peter used traditional sets and characters for his production of The Waterman by Dibdin, whilst Joe dazzled us with beautiful bright acrylic scenes and characters for his novel and witty retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Robert Poulter's Part 3 of his Henry Irving presentation of the Faust Fantasy was a cornucopia of scene and character changes whose physicality defied belief. His final applause prolonged in admiration for his imagination and stage technique. Even more winning was the over-the-top performance of a Jacques Prevert piece by Eric Poirier delivered in French and English at breakneck speed.
After the Lord Mayor's Show comes the dustcart, and what better finish for those still left on Sunday evening than the equally outrageous romp with Peter and Sylvia Peasgood, before a specially invited front row audience of Martine Bliese and her kitchen helpers who had served us all right royally with food and drink all weekend. They appreciated Peter's vulgar cabaret performances as much as the stage machinery and tricks that stamp out Peter's skill in presentation.
I was touched by the love and attention amounting almost to veneration shown towards the Webbs, particularly by the Germans, and encouraged by the interest in and support for my project. The Papierteater Festival was not just an inspiration for me but a rocket launch into a new world. I almost felt like the Prodigal Son who had been away too long and was welcomed with open arms back into the family. . . Thank you, Preetz. . .