Is puppetry a family tradition?
My father was seven years old when he became an orphan. So my grandmother – finding herself a widow – had to look for work. When she was away from home, she used to leave her children with some relatives. My father attached himself to the puppeteer, who had his workshop just below the house. This is how it all began.
Are your siblings also working as puppeteers?
No, I’m the only one working in this field. My father saw his own passion in me. And he became very proud of me when, at the young age of 11, I made my first “pupo”. It was 40cm long and it was perfect in my eyes.
Salvatore Bumbello©Compagnia Brigliadoro
How would you define your work?
It’s heavy-going and you must be physically strong, because it’s an itinerant job. Several times a month I must load up the truck and build the theatre in different place. During my shows I have to move continuously, with the puppets – each of the puppets weigh 8/9 kilos. And then there is the mental effort: you have to learn everything by heart.
Could your craft be considered in danger?
Absolutely, yes! In Palermo there are few puppeteers: most of them are very popular, but they do not respect our culture and tradition. Every single background in our show was passed down through the generations and shall not be changed. If you change the tradition, you destroy it.