KOLK 17 Mission Statement
KOLK 17 strives for entertainment of the highest standard – for everyone.
KOLK 17 offers events for a diverse audience. The productions, differing in form between Puppet, figure and object theatre are based on a creative visual and artistic animation process. They examine traditions and current social issues. KOLK 17 is a versatile place of creative and cultural education that enchants its visitors in both exhibitions and performances.
KOLK 17 stands for openness and diversity.
KOLK 17 works transparently across cultural divides and between disciplines. The diversity of puppet theatre can be experienced through the various exhibitions and performances also at times given by international guest ensembles. It is important for us to be able to accommodate the needs of society by making ourselves accessible for all people: barrier-free, with offers especially for children and for various age groups.
KOLK 17 shares knowledge.
KOLK 17 is a research-based cultural institution that takes to task current theories and debates in the fields of puppet theatre, the performing arts and museum research.Here, the history of objects in the collection are explored, as are new techniques for exhibitions and performances. KOLK 17 endeavours to be a platform capable of contributing to the exchange of knowledge about puppet theatre.
Why actually “17”?
What does KOLK 17 mean?
After the many discussions we had regarding the name of the new limited liability company, we decided in favour of the Kolk, taking the name of the medieval town alley in which our building is located – under the seven gables of the old houses. The house numbers ran from 14-22, even numbers throughout. The odd ones do not exist. On the other side of the street is the massive wall supporting the churchyard of St. Peter’s church. In the middle of all the numbers is 17, which fits the pronunciation of the word Kolk very well. 17 is a prime number, the first after the very fabulously occupied 3, 5, 7, 11, 13. We like the humour, which makes us think of Trick 17 (a German ‘saying’) and also the fact that it is a fictitious house number. Our 17 stands for winking, playfulness and creativity, youth and awakening; some however find 17 sinister and profound.
The theatre (so far officially numbers 20-22) and museum (so far officially numbers 14-18) seek to be reborn in this new number.
KOLK 17 Puppet Theatre & Museum
History of the buildings
Lübeck’s Kolk in the middle of the Old Town is home to a chequered history of puppet theatre. Fritz Fey Sr. opened a puppet theatre here in 1977, which entertained its audience with plays for children and adults for 30 years. This era came to an end in 2006. In 2007, the Puppet Theatre in Lübeck was founded as a modern theatre venue catering to guest performers for all forms of puppet, mask and object theatre. Together with its permanent cooperation partner: the ensemble of KOBALT Puppet Theatre Lübeck, it developed a wide-ranging programme for children and adults, theatre education programmes and an international festival held every two years. This has resulted in one of the most important institutions for theatre of this form in Germany. A special feature has always been the proximity to the museum: as early as 1982, the Puppet Theatre Museum was founded in the immediate vicinity with a floor space of 500 square metres as a private collector’s museum by Fritz Fey jun. Due to its unique collection of approximately 20,000 puppets, objects, instruments and graphics on the subject of puppet theatre, it has a special position, both within the Lübeck museum landscape and indeed throughout Germany. It is one of the few museums internationally to deal singularly with the theme of puppet theatre.
In early 2021, both institutions merged under the umbrella title KOLK 17 Puppet Theatre & Museum.
KOLK 17 Exhibition concept
Questions and themes regarding varying exhibitions
We focus on sensuality – the aesthetic experience in the exhibition spaces is our first priority. From within the abundance of the collection, we present primarily tangible case studies and devote ourselves to thematic focal points in a constant rotation. For the dramaturgy of our exhibition spaces, we use experiences from actual theatre work and endeavour to present our exhibitions – similar in this regard to theatre productions – as offers of interpretation within the realm of freedom of expression. There is no dominant narrative, but rather the voices of multiple narrators with their perspectives and interpretations. KOLK 17 is a place of fellowship – not only in the theatre performances but also in the exhibition spaces.
The Challenge of the Theatre Puppet
Handcraft, dramaturgy and future
Puppet theatre productions are a multi-layered, dramatic combination of design elements, animation processes and physically specific performing arts. All these aspects are based on handcraft traditions dating back centuries, which continue to provide lasting inspiration for today’s puppeteers. How do you build a theatre puppet able to be seen from the last row, How is it constructed, How do you animate a large and heavy puppet or a small, light or even translucent puppet, How does one be ‘in the moment’, How do you establish eye contact, how do you grab the audience, lead their emotions, their perception? Here one finds many stimulating ideas in the collection when rehearsing, searching and creating, or when collaborating on performance based exhibition concepts. The production then creatively builds up the relationship to the present and reality using today’s other theatrical means, e.g. digital media.
From “Colonialism and Puppet Theatre. Untangeling The Threads”
The thing in the showcase
The certain something of the theatrical moment cannot be detected by breaking down puppet theatre into its individual parts, in playing technique, puppets, stage sets, play texts. It lies in between and remains fleeting, bound to the moment of performance – therefore immaterial. All attempts to research and write about it must necessarily remain approximations.
Much of culture is immaterial. The museum as an institution has always had to try to bridge this gap by focusing on objects, even more so by necessarily making everything into objects. We find a good symbol of this process of objectification in the showcase. It is (still) at the core of our idea of the museum: ‘Museum = (dead) objects in showcases’. This includes the object sign. It testifies to the idea of unambiguous identification and classification in the sense of (natural) scientific classifications. The unambiguous classification of the object is noted on it.
Research project puppet & Microcamera
How much cinematic perfection can the analogue ‘artificial’ theatre puppet tolerate in digital projections on stage? Is it possible to amalgamate the different perceptual processes of cinematic and puppet theatre images for the audience in an equal way? With puppet play and projection of live camera images onto surfaces, objects, materials, masks, etc., the interdisciplinary ensemble develops categories, practical tips and visions for dramaturgy, creativity and future joint productions.