To retrace the history of the Royal Toone Theatre is to make an extraordinary excursion of two centuries in the Old Brussels of legendary figures. From the Ancient Toone, born in 1804 and creating his first works from 1830, to Nicolas Géal, the current Toone VIII, this Marionette Theatre, know the world over, has moved from the Marolles District where it was born to the Ilot sacré beside the Grand' Place where it is flourishing today.
1931 was an important year for the Brussels Marionette Theatre, because it marked the birth of José Géal and the foundation of the "Friends of the Marionette", which has enabled the Royal Toone Theatre to survive. When, in 1963, incapable of competing against the advent of a new mass culture, Pierre Welleman, alias Toone VI, decided to close his theatre, Jef Bourgeois, the curator of the theatre and the marionettes, knew that a new expropriation would be its death blow. Which is why he created the "Friends of Toone". This initiative, together with the arrival of José Géal at the helm, was completely to "redynamise" the theatre. A former actor of the National Theatre, director of his own theatre company, José Géal, a trained puppeteer speaking four languages, was to ensure the rescue of this veritable cultural institution that the Royal Toone Theatre has now become. Today, his son Nicolas, Toone VIII, is being groomed to take over and ensure the long-term survival of this place of legends.
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