Italian Marionettes

Italian Marionettes


The Link, July 1934, p.247


From time to time, Irene Mawer’s husband, Mark Edward Perugini, was editor of The Link, which was ‘The Journal of the Association of Teachers of the Revived Greek Dance; the Z Club; the Ginner-Mawer School; and of all who are interested in the Dance and Drama.’


In this particular issue, printed almost 90 years ago, under the heading Editorial Notes, is an article written by someone with the initials M. P. – presumably Mark Perugini.  One of the paragraphs in the Editorial Notes asks if the reader has seen ‘the good wizard’?  That is, the puppet master of the Teatro dei Piccoli – the Theatre of the Little People.  The ‘good wizard’ is the nickname given to the puppeteer Signor Podrecca D’Annunzio – an Italian poet, playwright, orator, and journalist.


Perugini, himself of Italian extraction, encourages anyone who has not yet seen the ‘amazing marionettes’ to ‘go at once, to see how dolls may become artists, if inspired with life from a master-mind.”  The examples given would not be to today’s taste: Bull Fight; Little Negro Revue; and Concert Party.  Though one of the shows might still resonate: Impressions of Hollywood – a ‘scathing satire on modern America!’

Perugini quotes a famous Italian actress (already dead at the time Perugini wrote the article), Eleonora Duse, as saying ‘I greet these little actors that do not speak, but obey.  Between the dream and the reality of art, the marionette can be perfect, if she too is guided by a soul.’  Perugini says that that is something for us all to take to heart.


Mawer and Perugini had been married for nearly four years at this point, so we can see that Irene is likely to have had a great Italian influence into her life through her husband’s obvious interest in his familial heritage, and he was not afraid of bringing Italian culture into his editorship of the magazine which went out to ‘all those interested in Dance and Drama.’


I think that Irene Mawer would have been interested in the puppets for their own sake, as well as for the Italian connection.  Among the papers found after her death, were postcards showing the wooden marionettes used throughout Indonesia, eg, in Bali – so she probably gave consideration to ‘these little actors that do not speak.’


picture credit: from the website

World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts, Union International de la Marionnette



Author: Janet Fizz Curtis

Janet Fizz Curtis is trained in the Irene Mawer Method of Mime and Movement and is now writing a book about the life of Irene Mawer.

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