Le faux-orchestre, a wordless show for all ages by La Mue/tte; Credit: Fanchon Bibille

After a five-year absence, the biennial international puppet festival, "Marionettefestival", is set to return to Tadler, a small village in the municipality of Esch-sur-Sûre in northern Luxembourg, from Friday 26 to Monday 29 May 2023.

On Wednesday 26 April 2023, one month ahead of the start date, the festival organisers unveiled the programme for this ninth edition to members of the press, including Chronicle.lu.

The Marionettefestival is an international festival of puppetry and contemporary object theatre. Local artist collective MASKéNADA initiated the festival in 2001, before passing the torch to Rotondes in 2016 and 2018; now, the Esch(t)Kultur association has taken up the task of perpetuating the festival in the region. With the support of the municipality of Esch-sur-Sûre and Luxembourg's Ministry of Culture, Esch(t)Kultur has entrusted the management of the project to local cultural engineering agency Services for Creatives.

The festival has taken place in Tadler since the fifth edition in 2010, with earlier editions having taken place elsewhere in the region (Esch-sur-Sûre, Boulaide, Heiderscheid and Lultzhausen). The last edition, in 2018, attracted about 5,000 visitors.

For this new edition, the Marionettefestival will return to Tadler, bringing together sixteen companies and artists from seven countries: Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain. The festival will unfold across fourteen "unusual" venues, namely local barns, garages and the church, as well as on the streets. On the agenda are contemporary object theatre, puppetry, shadow theatre, visual and musical theatre. Three subjects weave their way through the festival programme: the vagaries of daily life in the family cocoon which ultimately leads to emancipation, the indestructible force that unites friendships and the tireless quest not to let nature slip away from us.

The programme is designed to cater for all ages. In addition to thirteen shows (about 100 performances), the festival offers street entertainment and free creative workshops. Whilst several of the shows are in French, German or Luxembourgish, more than half of them are wordless and there is one show in English with simultaneous translation into Luxembourgish - a first for the festival - namely You are Here/Du Bass hei (for children aged two to six) by Danish theatre company Theatre Madam Bach. According to the organisers, language should not be a barrier at this event. Angélique D'Onghia of Services for Creatives assured that the festival "is addressed also to an anglophone audience, even if the shows are not in English", noting that in addition to wordless shows, there is a lot of other entertainment where knowledge of a particular language is not required. She and her colleague Séverine Zimmer added that the event was also about having fun, enjoying the atmosphere and discovering this small picturesque village in northern Luxembourg.

New this year is an educational pilot project, launched in collaboration with the primary school in Esch-sur-Sûre. "Vu Marionetten an alen Trottinetten" will see pupils create four interactive installations using recycled materials to test the various manipulation techniques used in puppetry, object theatre and shadow theatre, among others, during the festival. 

To bring the Marionettefestival to life, the organisers work together with local residents, schools and municipal services, organisations and clubs, as well as businesses in the region. About 140 volunteers are involved. Local clubs will be selling food throughout the festival, including vegetarian and vegan options, assured the organisers.

The festival will begin with a school programme on Friday 26 May 2023, before opening to the public on Saturday 27 May 2023 from 14:00 to 20:30, Sunday 28 May 2023 from 10:30 to 20:00 and Monday 29 May 2023 from 10:00 to 18:00.

Street performances and other entertainment is free, although tickets are required for the shows. Prices range from €6 to €12 (€5/€10 reduced) for adults and cost €6 (€5 reduced) for visitors under the age of 25; Kulturpass tickets cost €1.50. Tickets for the "D'Kiischt op der Bühn" workshop (in Luxembourgish; for children aged eight to twelve) cost €40. Tickets will go on sale on Friday 28 April 2023.

Further information (including registration to volunteer in future) is available on the website www.marionettefestival.lu, where the full programme will be available from 28 April.