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Great theatre: “Puppets 4.0” takes you into the VR puppet theater

MIXED / Joern Schumacher Email

Großes Theater: „Puppets 4.0“ entführt ins VR Figurentheater Email

Picture: FIDENA

VR technology meets puppetry: Das Museum of Puppet Theater and Puppetry Bochum shows puppets and figures in VR.

Admittedly, I haven’t had much to do with dolls so far. And so my path would probably not have crossed the Museum for Puppet Theater and Puppet Theater in Bochum so soon. But the VR experience called “Puppet 4.0” aroused my curiosity. I paid a visit to the virtual puppet museum – and was pleasantly surprised!

The real puppets from the collection of the German Forum for Puppet Theater and Puppet Theater are not yet available in of reality – we are working on that. But I can already look at three-dimensional images of the characters with an Oculus Quest in virtual reality, move them myself and get to know them better.

VR lesson: The story(s) of the dolls and figures

In the VR experience, I find myself in typical puppet theater scenarios, such as in a forest, in a marketplace or in an oriental temple. Fritz Wortelmann, founder of the German Institute for Puppetry, appears in miniature form as a puppet and provides information about each individual figure on display.

In five VR rooms I learn about various aspects of puppet theater. For example, in the first room I learn about dolls that are in the 1930 years were used by the Nazis for their propaganda. Or did you know that the well-known character Kasper(le) was 170771 for the first time was used? I certainly don’t. By the way, because puppeteers were associated with magic by the church, they were considered dangerous in the Middle Ages.


Different puppet theater cultures are shown in the VR exhibition. | Image: FIDENA

In other rooms I look at stick figures from Asia and learn something about them “Wayang” – the Indonesian puppet show. A few puppeteers move up to 15 Figures at the same time.

Shadow play figures probably already existed at 1500 v. on the island. From China are figures from the hand puppet show from the 16. century to see. The figures are exact miniature representations of the Chinese opera performers of the time. One of the miniature heads on a wooden stick represents a Japanese stick figure from the 17. Century.

Partially interactive figure museum

Some dolls I can pick up and hold in front of my eyes to examine them closely. However, the exhibits are rarely interactive. On purpose, says Mareike Gaubitz from the in-house documentation and research center. You just want to remain a museum and not develop a VR game.



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On the use of VR The programmers deliberately avoided controllers: I only move through the computer-generated environment with my hands. The operation should be as simple as possible, both for children and for seniors, who would bring a certain skepticism about the VR glasses anyway, says Gaubitz, who I can literally see the enthusiasm for the puppet theater.

The small figure of the founder of the German Institute for Puppetry, Fritz Wortelmann, shows us around and explains everything. | Image: FIDENA

Strictly speaking, it’s not called “puppet theatre”, but figure theatre, I learn from little Herr Wortelmann. Because whoever hears “dolls” immediately thinks of children’s programs and toys. But the world of miniature theater is more diverse than the classic puppet theater from childhood days. Some figures transform or are split in the middle when they are fatally hit with a sword by an Italian soldier in shining armor.

Become a puppet theater fan through VR – or vice versa

Who If you want to delve deeper into the virtual tour, you should bring some time with you: Good 80 It takes minutes if you want to watch and listen to everything. But it’s worth it: little Herr Wortelmann has gripping stories to tell and, as is usually the case in museums, you learn a lot from it. In any case, the previously strange, new world of puppet theater and the art of puppetry opened up to me through the VR experience.

The “Puppets 4.0” project was funded by the federal government and by the City of Bochum. Money well spent, I think, because the plan to introduce more people to the world of puppet theater could work.

“On the one hand, we get VR enthusiasts to maybe deal with the subject of puppet theater for the first time,” says Mareike Gaubitz, “on the other hand, puppet enthusiasts come and are fascinated by the possibilities of virtual reality.”

More You can get information and tickets on the official website.

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