Théâtre de Toone
(Impasse Schuddeveld 6/Petite rue des Bouchers)
   The Théâtre de Toone is a traditional puppet theater run by a succession of puppet-masters designated as Toone, of whom Toone VIII (Nicholas Géal) is the current titleholder, taking over from his father José in April 2003.
   The theater originated in the Marolles district in 1830 under Toone I (Antoine Genty, known as Toone the Elder), who invented the Woltje ("little Walloon"), an impudent Brussels street urchin (ketje van Brussel) dressed in checked jacket and sporting a dirty, flat cap, who invariably acts as the narrator of the tales. Toone I was succeeded in 1880 by his apprentice, Toone II (Franz Taelemans, known as the Ancestor), who, in turn was followed by Toone II n 1890. In 1911, Toone III was discovered dead, hanging between his puppets. Toone IV, a ward of the theater's founder, directed the puppets for 15 years until succeeded by Toone V (Daniel de Ladewyck), one of his assistants. In 1935, the theater closed for two years until it was revived by Toone VI (Pierre Welleman), who was forced to relocate out of the Marolles because of urban redevelopment. In 1963, he reopened in a café in the Kapellemarkt, but only one performance was played as this property was also marked for demolition.
   At the end of 1963, Jose Géal, a puppet carver and assistant to Toone VI, succeeded to the title of Toone VII. He bought the current premises, a tiny house built in 1696 following the bombardment of 1695 on a narrow passageway near the Grand' Place.
   Plays run the gamut from tragedies to comedies. They are famed for the saucy, oftentimes baudy, performances by the puppets, whose voices are the voice of Toone. They are traditionally performed in the bruxellois dialect but today they are also given in French, Dutch, English, and German.
   Plays are performed in the upstairs theater, above which a small museum contains exhibits of old puppets and puppet-related items.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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