O let us now sing the praises of noted Swiss puppeteer Rolf Swisspupp! Preferably to a free jazz accompaniment, with bongos! Or, on second thoughts, let us not, for when we sing it is a godawful caterwauling that sets the teeth on edge and makes birds plummet from the sky, stone dead. Instead, let us list some of the books which, over the past forty years, the noted Swiss puppeteer has interpreted, in dramatic form, in eighteen-hour puppet shows, to adoring audiences in every canton of Switzerland.
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane
Me And My Ectoplasm by Algernon Spooky
The Decline Of The West by Oswald Spengler
Chappaquiddick : The Real Story by James Lange and K DeWitt Jr
Verbose Twaddle by Will Self
The Loch Ness Mystery Solved by Ronald Binns
The Thing On The Doorstep by H P Lovecraft
The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope
The Prisoner Of Brenda by Max Décharné
Rolf Swisspupp’s puppets are made from his own secret, patented substance known as Swiss Puppetene™, and this gives them an eerily lifelike appearance. In the words of the puppeteering critic Horst Puppcrit, “these puppets are eerily lifelike, if a few conjoined and twisted pipe-cleaners and a knob of putty can be imbued with life”.
The puppets are mute, chiefly because Rolf Swisspupp’s voicebox was surgically removed following a traumatic childhood ice-skating accident. The sheer dramatic intensity of his productions is made all the more sheer and dramatic and intense by the resounding silence in which they are performed. Dropped pins, etcetera.
In person, Rolf Swisspupp has a haunted and ravaged appearance, which has led to rumours that, when he is alone with his puppets, they come to life and torment him, as Michael Redgrave was tormented by his ventriloquist’s dummy in the film Dead Of Night (1945). Certainly it is true that the Swiss puppeteer has been found on occasion staggering through the streets of Zurich and Lucerne and Winterthur and Geneva, drink-sodden and incontinent.
But if he is a tragic figure, he is also enormously popular with Swiss tinies, who clap their little hands and screech with joy at the mere mention of his name. So if, today, we do not sing his praises, we can screech them, like a small overtired Swiss child, screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech and screech until we are carted off and confined to a remote Swiss facility, high in the Alps, where brutish orderlies will torment us with pipe-cleaners and knobs of putty.