About Theater Gnaffel
Theater Gnaffel is a theatre company from Zwolle (The Netherlands). In their performances life-size puppets are magically brought to life. The company’s puppets are completely equal partners with the actors and together they create a captivating theatrical experience. Theater Gnaffel has been drawing children and alike adults into its idiosyncratic world of imagination and wonder over 25 years, performing in theatres and schools.
Artistic Director Elout Hol has developed a distinct and unique method of performing and a personal dramatic vocabulary: passion and intimacy are among its defining characteristics. His performances stand out for their displays of wilfulness, imagination, poetry and humour.
Theater Gnaffel takes people on a journey rich in imagination and wonder, into a unique world where life-size puppets magically come to life.
“Puppets can still simply take my breath away. During a performance I will be watching one of them as it goes about its business, and suddenly a look or a movement will take me by surprise. And that’s the magic of puppetry. If it’s done well, the puppets become complete characters with a will of their own and the power to think.”
Theater Gnaffel has been around for more than 25 years. Over the past years the company has created a series of highly successful performances: the performing arts journal TM Theatermaker included Het boek van alle dingen (The Book of All Things) in their top 5 of the best youth and children’s theatre performances of 2009/10. In 2006, Gnaffel received a Silver Cricket Award and in 2007 and 2013 a Gold Cricket Award, honorary prizes awarded by the VSCD, the Dutch association of theatre and concert hall directors, for the most impressive productions in youth theatre.
Other performances which have been very favourably received by audiences include De koning en de rest (The King and the Others), Zwart als inkt (Black as Ink, a site-specific performance for the Oerol festival) and Roodkapje (Little Red Riding Hood). Theater Gnaffel has also regularly played abroad these past few years, in countries such as Germany, Scotland and the United States, with the performance Durven in het donker (Daring in the Dark). We also played De ingebeelde zieke (The Imaginary Invalid) in Canada, and in 2011 we presented Het boek van alle dingen at Germany’s Starke Stücke festival, for which occasion we had the entire piece translated into German.
The current season
This season Theater Gnaffel is performing Oma, mag ik mijn pop terug? (6+) (September – December 2016), Joep! (4+) (September 2016 – March 2017) and Het Wilde Westen van Calamity Jane (8+) (February – May 2017).
The press on Theater Gnaffel
“De Worstelaar is a very moving performance with puppets that is part spectacle and part poetry. Its creators very cunningly manage to unite the different worlds in which old people and children live.” (De Volkskrant, Bart Deuss, September 2006)
Het boek van alle dingen:
“Those wonderful creations in latex sit at the kitchen table just as if they were real-life actors. Even when they are not moving, the rubber characters come to life on the stage where Hol and Coetsier perform the barest of actions. (…) All through the premiere of Het boek van alle dingen, after Guus Kuijer’s eponymous novel, the audience remain deadly quiet, right up to the applause.” (De Stentor, Marion Groenewoud, January 2010)
De ingebeelde zieke:
“Güthschmidt and Hol achieve remarkable performances under Ad de Bont’s direction. Elout Hol switches between his different puppets’ voices and characters at an amazing speed, and his performance of the servant girl is equally masterful.” (Trouw, 17 July 2001, Anita Twaalfhoven)
Peter Pan en de verloren jongens:
“A funny new introduction is the serial puppet Gnaffel (led by Elout Hol) is now presenting for the first time: a row of Indians capturing one of the lost boys, a school of colourful fish acting as mermaids with marigold fins flapping, and the gang of one-legged pirates all with plungers for peg-legs. Peter Pan’s fight with the pirates is simply hilarious – puppet-to-puppet – with him decapitating one pirate after the next.” (De Volkskrant, Annette Embrechts, 27 September 2011)
Art education can help children discover unknown worlds and to open them up. We at Gnaffel set up our educational activities around the performances and based on the magic of creating theatre through puppets. Gnaffel’s aim is for children’s experiences to reach beyond mere thinking and understanding.
Gnaffel’s educational materials are aimed at:
– stimulating the senses
– stirring the imagination
– teaching children to be curious about their own abilities and opportunities within the field of art
– teaching children about watching a theatre performance
All of our educational materials are connected, created as they are from the same points of departure:
– we depart from the resilience every child possesses
– we believe that children are brimming with ideas, thoughts and fantasies from a very early age, and that they are constantly questioning the world
– in our experience, children are looking for meaning and explore their world with everything they have intrinsically available to them
– we see children as creators; the producers of their own theories and knowledge
– it is our conviction that children are strong, competent and intelligent
Theater Gnaffel wants to encourage children to be open-minded in their observations: of themselves and the performance, of the world and the people around them. The question is not so much if they understand what the performance is about; it is what they see and what they experience, and how this affects them. In our educational programmes we aim to offer a range of different forms to make the contents of our performances tangible. In addition to theatre the children will also work on visual art, dance, film, photography and poetry. Most of all we want to show them that there can be multiple angles and views to see the same subject, that there are other truths besides their own.
The connecting thread in Gnaffel’s publicity material are the characterful puppets. They are the central feature of our promo materials – flyers, posters, postcards – but also on our website, social media and in presentations. In doing so Gnaffel has chosen a recognisable course, communicating about its performances using recognisable images.
8013 SB Zwolle