History of our Sicilian puppets

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A country standing still: Acireale. The people of the city have saved the ancient tradition of puppet shows; and thus today is it still possible to witness this ancient art where puppets dramatically leap onto the stage to grab the throat of the traitorous Gano of Maganza (typically he is painted to appear grim by predominantly using black). Many of the shows were performed by two important puppeteers Mariano Pennisi and Emanuele Macri.

Our theater was founded in 1887 by Mariano Pennisi, the last descendant of a nomadic puppeteer family. Although Mariano was not literate, he recite "Furious Roland" and "Freed Jerusalem".

Under Pennisi"s skilled hands, the great theater welcomed hundreds of excited spectators every night. Because of Pennisi, the theater grew in popularity and they expanded their number of Sicilian puppets from around thirty puppets to about one hundred. Pennisi then gave the theater to his successor, Emanuele Macri. In reference to Emanuele came to be involved in the Sicilian puppet theater, in 1908, as soon as he knew about the disaster in Messina, Pennisi left with a team of workers and helped for two days and two nights under the beating rain, to exhume the bodies of the Macri family.

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Amazingly under the rubble of the earthquake and protected by the deceased bodies of his parents, a small thirteen month old baby who would grow up to be Emanuele. After the excavation of this small baby from the rubble, Pennisi buried the deceased members of the Macri family and decided to raise Emanuele as if he were his own child. Pennisi however, did not want Emanuele to follow his career path as a professional puppeteer. Pennisi wanted Emanuele to go to school and receive an education - nonetheless, it seemed as though little Emanuele was fascinated by the theater.

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Emanuele believed that the theater was his destiny, he felt at home in the Sicilian puppet theater. Emanuele was only sixteen years old when he began his career as a puppeteer. In 1936, Pennisi died and he made a plea to Emanuele, "Swear to me that my Sicilian puppets will not die with me".

Emanuele then decided to begin putting on the History of the Paladins of France of Giusto Lo Dico (Episode 36 of the first volume, where Mambrino steals Reynold´s fiancée). The puppet show was a great success. The children of the town simply adored this play and thus Emanuele as well, this adoration was enough to convince Emanuele Macri that the art of the Sicilian puppet shows was worth the costs.

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Three years later, the Sicilian puppets of Acireale appeared in their garish and pompous outfits on the stage of a large hall, which was devoted to Bianaca of Navarra, in Taormina. Emanuele Macri decided that it was necessary to further advertise the art of Puppet Theater and make their theater known "all across the continent" and so he created another fifty Sicilian puppets with Alexander Magno, the Guelfo of Negroponte and Trabalzio. After the two men reached around 200 puppets, the puppet theater began to travel around.

The first one covers it was in Rome, where to the building of the exposure it enchanted both the public and the criticism, and then it went out even of Italy touching Salisburgo Bruxelles and the whole principal cities of Germany. Pushed by the wave of the enthusiasm, its fame, crossed even the ocean. Test of it both that the most greater child has been able to install a theater of the Sicilian puppets to Stony Creeck, in the Connecticut, with which he has won to the theatrical Festival of Indianapolis.

Successes for puppeteering are seen in movies such as The Vagabond, Air of Taormina, Plugs and the Paladins or in television shows in different countries such as Australia, Japan, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Western Germany, the United States, Canada, England, Holland, and also the Rai. Many of the puppet shows go on tour and have found interest in different parts of Europe as well as the United States. Shows for school children are always very popular, and so if you are interested in booking a show, on the performance of Chancon de Roland perhaps, for tourist groups or for schools, this may be able to be arranged. This theater is involved in producing shows of Sicilian puppets, placards, and hand-painted scenes of ancient places. The theater also has recently begun selling ancient materials that are no longer useable in shows, such as armed and unarmed puppets, scenes, puppet heads, and painted placards on paper to temper.

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The magnified image is not available

If you are interested in purchasing one of our Sicilian puppets, a placard, or an ancient scene, please visit our page of Sicilian puppet in sale and send us an e-mail to ask for further information.
Also, if you want to organize a show or an exhibition in your city, please check out where we have been and what the press has said about us.