Sudbury Hall NT

Sudbury Hall NT

Hanging on a Wire – The Lilliput Marionettes

This week we have been editing records on a rather wonderful collection of puppets, or marionettes. They were all part of the ‘Lilliput Marionette’ Theatre’ that toured around the Midlands schools in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and we think they are too interesting not to share.

The company formed when a group of five non-professional puppeteers set up a touring company at the beginning of World War II.  Bernard Lewis (later the director of the company) met Edward Hellawell (the maker of the puppets) in Wormwood Scrubs when they were serving time as conscientious objectors. It is understood, from cast recollections, that other like minded pacifists joined the group and they began touring. The company toured much of the Midlands, mainly appearing in schools, from their base in Wolverhampton, and a review from the ‘Hampshire Chronicle’  and ‘Isle of Wight Press’ suggests they also had successes further afield.

Some of the plays they performed included ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Faust’. The puppets themselves range from this rather adorable rabbit from Hansel and Gretal;

Rabbit from Hansel and Gretel

Rabbit from Hansel and Gretel

To the slightly scarier looking characters from Faust such as Mephistopholes; 

Marrionette from Faust

Marrionette from Faust

 

 

Do you remember the ‘Lilliput Marionette Theatre Company’ coming to your school ? There is still so much we don’t know about these amazing puppets and we would love to know more. Have a look at the collection and see if you can help us out, or simply have a browse. Just click on the link, and search for ‘Lilliput Marionette’ in our collection.

  laura

 

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    David Lee April 3rd, 2014 at 1:19 am

    I worked with bernard lewis during 1960s, travelling through scandinavia on a tour of schools and other organisations playing the lilliput marionette theatre. We were sponsored by the british council (I have forgotten the proper name).it was a fascinating experience for me as I had no knowledge of puppets or stage work. I took a bus journey to bernard’s house in wolverhampton, and found, after his tutelage
    that I was able to handle the puppets quite easily. Thank you, bernard… dave lee

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