Since 1941 ...
In 1941, José Maquet builds a puppet theatre on a handcart to survive during the war. After the war, José begins to tour with a larger handcart and with the faithful assistance of Tommy, his dog.
It remains essentially a travelling theatre.
In 1978, he creates a new theatre: “A l’Vil rouâle des coq” and opens a puppet school which he runs.
On 15 May 1981, the association, until then “de facto”, is formalised as a non-profit-making organisation.
In 1991, José receives the title “Royal” for his association on its fiftieth anniversary.
In 1992, José Maquet entrusts management of the company to Didier Balsaux
From 1992 ...
Claire and Didier take over the reins in 1992.
Artistic career of Didier Balsaux
I was born in 1968. From a very young age I attended the traditional Liège puppet theatre. I began to train at the Musée Tchantchès when I was nine years old, alongside Henri Libert. In 1992, when I was 24, I left the Musée Tchantchès to take over what was then Les Marionnettes St-Gilloises. Founded by José Maquet in 1941, this company started with performances in shelters during the bombardments of the Second World War, and then continued to give street performances until my arrival. Combining my profession as a specialist teacher of autistic children and my puppetry, I decided to dedicate myself entirely to the company in 1997.
In 1999, I wrote and worked on creation of the play “Trois Grains de Sable” with Gaspar Leclere producing. This work was the trigger of a more professional artistic career, with production work, reflections on stage design, and work on being an actor coupled with traditional puppetry revisited. It should be noted that this play is still being performed and since its creation it has been played 333 times, in France, Switzerland and Belgium.
In 2003, I wrote and worked on creation of “Meunier des Fonds de Quarreux” with Bernard Massuir producing. Initially greeted with suspicion as it was still associated with traditional puppetry, the play very soon spread to Belgian and French street festivals. Included in the programme for the World Puppet Festival in Charleville Mézières, it was played on several French national stages. It was finally selected for the Huy Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences in 2006, where it won the Prize awarded by the Minister of Primary Education as well as the Press Prize. Since then, it has continued to play to young audiences and in street performances. It was performed more than 200 times ... taking its final curtain in November 2010.
In 2005, I wrote “Le Noël des Gueux” with Massimo Shuster producing. This fairground play for adults was performed in our big top in Charleville where its success was immediate. In 2006, it was performed 30 times at Belgian and French festivals. In 2008, it was on the programmed for the national stages of Evreux and Grenoble. Described by critics as “irreverent”, this play has done extremely well.
It was undoubtedly special in the sense that it was the first time acting took an upper hand over the puppets.
Finally, in May 2007, I wrote the street play “Le Massacre des Innocents” and the sideshow “Le Walter Closed Orchestra” with Hervé Cristianini. This year, the team travelled to Jerusalem to write the play “La Légende Merveilleuse de Godefroy de Bouillon”.
July 2008 saw the premiere of this play at the festival “Les Affranchis” in La Flèche. “La Légende Merveilleuse de Godefroy de Bouillon” was presented in Avignon as part of the programme for the Théâtre des Doms in July 2009 and won two prizes (Press Favourite and the Prize of the Minister of Secondary Education) at the Huy Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences in August 2009.
Then a tour was organised around Belgian cultural centres for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons.
In 2010, “Et ta Soeur?” was well received by audiences and also by programme makers. In September 2011, it was on the programme for "IN" at the World Festival of Puppet Theatres in Charleville Mézières.
At the present time, a new creation is on the stocks, and will be ready ... in 2012.