When I was a small boy, around four years old, my mother used to take me every week to a performance of a childrens puppet play at Dam Square, the most central square of the city, in front of the Royal Palace.
It was a performance called ‘Jan Klaassen en Katrijn’ which you can compare with ‘Punch and Judy’ in Great-Britain and ‘Pulcinella’ in Italy.
If you know the outline of the story you can imagine there was a lot of hitting and hiding on the side of the puppets and shouting on the side of the children!
My mother always waited very patiently till the end of the show while I was having the best time of my youth. And maybe she was enjoying it as well but I can not ask her anymore because she is dead and gone.
Last year on the 19th of August I went to a festival at Dam Square to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the puppet theatre. The whole afternoon there were performances not only of ‘Jan Klaassen en Katrijn’ but other performances as well by Bruno Leone from Napoli and Robert Styles from London ( ‘Pulcinella’ and ‘Punch and Judy’).
To make it even more attractive there was a small workshop for children where you could learn to make puppets, street theatre and slapstick. Children could even have their faces painted. As a decoration there was a four metre high puppet of Pulcinella. Many children were present and were having a very good time like I use to have some fifty-two years ago.
Around half way through the afternoon the current puppet player of Dam Square was given an award by the council of Amsterdam. You could see on his face that he was very proud!
This year I will definitely take my grandson to one of the performances!
On this page you can see my photo-impression of the day and a Youtube clip of a performance in the year 1940.
Amsterdam, the 17th of May 2019.