The Ventriloquists Convention


Program Information

Genre / Country Theatre / FRANCE, GERMANY
Dates 6 May at 15:00, 7 May at 13:00
Venue At Shizuoka Arts Theatre
Duration 110 minutes
Language In English with Japanese subtitles
seat Reserved seat
Conceived & Direced by Gisèle VIENNE
© Estelle HANANIA
© Estelle HANANIA


Do you show the world a false face, or your real face?
These ventriloquists pose such questions and more.

Inspired by a real international conference of ventriloquists held annually in the United States, “The Ventriloquists Convention” features nine ventriloquists engaged in an exciting, machine-gun talk session in which accepted opinions and their intense personal beliefs fly this way and that as their exchanges become heated.
Here, for instance, apparently easy-going social chit-chat can gradually become extreme and loaded with cynical black humour as hidden feelings unexpectedly burst out — often exposing each ventriloquist’s carefully disguised inner loneliness.
To create this unique conversational play with its cast comprising both puppets and ventriloquists, the French artist and renowned choreographer Gisèle VIENNE — who is well known for her puppet plays revealing humans’ darker sides — collaborated with the leading German puppet-theatre company Puppentheater Halle.
Together, they breathe such powerful life into the puppets that audiences at Shizuoka Arts Theatre should prepare to be shocked — and transported into another world.


As an annual international conference of ventriloquists begins, its participants delight in introducing their puppets and recounting memories. Among them, an intense TV star named Nils enlivens the atmosphere, though there’s always squabbling over each other’s recollections and amateur ventriloquists sometimes interrupt the event. Then a legendary puppet that’s been repaired and has miraculously come back to life appears, as well as one of the late Kurt COBAIN, charismatic leader of the U.S. rock band Nirvana, that plays his music and brings everyone to the edge of their seats. After a while, a third-party’s voice is heard in the room, arguments break out among the ventriloquists and puppets, and the conference descends into chaos.

Director’s Profile

© Estelle HANANIA

was born in 1976, she is a Franco-Austrian artist, choreographer and director. After graduating in Philosophy, she studied at the puppeteering school Ecole Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette. There she met Etienne BIDEAU-REY with whom she created her first shows.
She works regularly with, among other, the writers Dennis COOPER and Catherine ROBBE-GRILLET, the musicians Peter REHBERG and Stephen O’MALLEY, the light designer Patrick RIOU and the actor Jonathan CAPDEVIELLE. Since 2004, she has choreographed and directed, in collaboration with the writer Dennis COOPER, “I Apologize” (2004) and “Une belle enfant blonde / A young, beautiful blond girl” (2005), “Kindertotenlieder” (2007) and “Jerk, a radioplay” in the framework of the “atelier de création radiophonique” of France Culture (June 2007), the play “Jerk” (2008), “Eternelle Idole” (2009) with an ice skater and an actor, “This is how you will disappear” (2010), “LAST SPRING: A Prequel” (2011), “Showroomdummies #3” rewriting of the piece created in 2001 with Etienne BIDEAU-REY that is now part of the CCN-Ballet de Lorraine repertoire, “The Pyre” (2013) and “The Ventriloquy Convention” (2015) in collaboration with Puppentheater Halle. Since 2005, she has been frequently exhibiting her photographs and installations.
Gisèle VIENNE, Dennis COOPER, Peter REHBERG and Jonathan CAPDEVIELLE published an audio book in 2 versions French and English: “JERK / Through Their Tears” (publisher DIS VOIR). She has published a book “40 PORTRAITS 2003-2008”, in collaboration with Dennis COOPER and Pierre DOURTHE (publisher: P.O.L). Currently she is working on a piece for 15 dancers which will be created in November 2017.
For more information please visit:

Writer’s Profile

© Dennis COOPER

is a novelist, poet and critic. He lives in Paris and Los Angeles. He has published ten novels, most recently “Zac’s Haunted House” (a novel composed of animated gifs) in January 2015. He recently completed a feature film, “Like Cattle Towards Glow”, which he created in collaboration with the artist Zac Farley.
He is a contributing Editor of Artforum Magazine and the editor of the American publishing imprint “Little House on the Bowery”.
Collaborating with Gisele Vienne since 2004 he has written all the texts in “I Apologize” (2004), “Une enfant blonde / A Young Beautiful blonde girl” (2006), in collaboration with Catherine Robbe-Grillet, “Kindertotenlieder” (2007), “Jerk” (2008), “This is how you will disappear” (2010), “LAST SPRING : A Prequel” (2011), “The Pyre” (2013) and “The Ventriloquists Convention” (2015).

Company Profile

Puppentheatre Halle
Founded in 1954, it is one of the outstanding features of the Puppet Theatre Halle that it stages puppet theatre productions not only for a young audience but also for adults and in evening shows - as the only puppet theatre ensemble in German-speaking countries. Director and author Christoph Werner, who is the artistic director of the Puppet Theatre Halle since 1995, has successfully established Halle’s puppet theatre on the international stage. The ensemble currently counts nine puppet performers, among them one puppet creator. Sensual and intelligent puppet theatre and the unique relationship between creators and creatures led to prizewinning productions invited to festivals and guest performances around the world. The Puppet Theatre Halle stages up to 5 productions each year including coproductions with other theatres beyond all genre boundaries. The puppets are crafted individually for each production which is also one of the significant charasteristics of the Puppet Theatre Halle. Since 2010, the Puppet Theatre Halle has been incorporated within the Theater, Oper und Orchester GmbH Halle.


◎Pre-performance talk: Starting 25 minutes before each performance
◎Post-performance talk by the artists: 7 May

Cast / Staff

Conception & Direction: Gisèle VIENNE
Written by Dennis COOPER, in collaboration with the performers
Performed by and created in collaboration with
Jonathan CAPDEVIELLE, Kerstin DALEY-BARADEL, Uta GEBERT & Vincent GÖHRE and the performers of Puppentheater Halle: Nils DRESCHKE, Sebastian FORTAK, Lars FRANK, Ines HEINRICH-FRANK & Katharina KUMMER
Light design: Patrick RIOU
Sound design: KTL (Stephen O’MALLEY & Peter REHBERG)

Production: Puppentheater Halle and DACM (Halle / Saale & Strasbourg)
Coproduction: Nanterre – Amandiers – centre dramatique national // Festival d’Automne a Paris // Les Spectacles Vivants – Centre Pompidou // Centre Dramatique National Orleans / Loiret / Centre // Le TJP, Centre Dramatique National d’Alsace – Strasbourg // Le Maillon, Theatre de Strasbourg – Scene europeenne // La Batie, Festival de Geneve // Internationales Sommerfestival, Kampnagel, Hamburg // Kaserne Basel // Le Parvis, Scene nationale de Tarbes – Pyrenees // Theater Freiburg // Bonlieu, Scene nationale d’Annecy // hTh CDN de Montpellier // Fidena Festival – Bochum

With the support of Kulturstiftung des Bundes // Pro Halle e.V. // Saalesparkasse // FachausschussTanz und Theater Basel – Stadt / Basel – Landschaft // Institut Francais in the frame of ≪Theatre export≫ // Bureau Theatre et Danse – Institut Francais d’Allemagne & Association Beaumarchais – SACD Paris in the frame of the help program in production // Cultural Services of the French Embassy New-York

The Company Gisèle Vienne is supported by Ministère de la culture et de la communication – DRAC Grand Est, la Région Grand Est and Ville de Strasbourg.
The company is supported by Institut Français for international touring. Institut Français

Gisèle Vienne is associate artist at the Nanterre-Amandiers CDN since 2014
Supported by Kyoto Performing Arts Center at Kyoto University of Art and Design, Goethe-Institut Tokyo GOETHE INSTITUT


●Recommended for age 12 and up.

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