Drame du Polichinelle français


16 pages

Drame du Polichinelle français

écrit sous sa dictée aux Champs-Élysées

| First half of the 19th century | Paris, France
Genre (as defined by the author)
Polichinelle, L'Aveugle, La Femme de l'Aveugle, Minet, Le Commissaire
Number of acts

Along with Jules Rémond’s writing from the same year, Drame du Polichinelle français is the oldest known transcription of the Polichinelle shows with hand-puppets as they were played at the end of the 18th century and well into the 19th century in parks, public gardens and promenades. In Paris, several hand-puppet booths performed this show on the Champs Élysée. The text is published in a small anonymous volume entitled Les Grotesques, fragments de la vie nomade, recueillis par un archéologue, petit-fils de Turlupin (The Grotesques, fragments of the nomadic life, gathered by an archaeologist, grandson of Turlupin), in which several scenes that happened in the streets of Paris are described. Even if the phrase “the author’s poetic license has been preserved” is written on its title page, the play has most likely been rewritten before it was published. It is an abridged version of the show, which does not include the fight against the Devil. The presence of a living cat amongst the puppets is largely attested by the iconography of the time.

Plot summary

The hero gets rid of anyone standing in his way

After Polichinelle’s greeting to the public, the play starts with the entry of Aveugle (Blindman), who begs for money. Aveugle accidentally hits Polichinelle with his cane; the two of them quarrel and Polichinelle knocks Aveugle unconscious. La Femme de l’Aveugle (Blindman’s Wife) is furious; she attacks Polichinelle and bites his nose. He knocks her unconscious as well and throws them both out of the hand-puppet booth. Commissaire (Superintendent) arrives and wants to take Polichinelle in. He asks Chat (Cat) for help, but the cat scratches him. Commissaire makes Chat believe that the gallows are destined for someone else. Pretending not to know how to slide his head through the slipknot, Polichinelle asks Commissaire to show him how to do it and takes advantage of the opportunity to hang him. He leaves, carrying Chat under his arm.

Composition date

Publications and translations


Les Grotesques, fragments de la vie nomade, recueillis par un archéologue, petit-fils de Turlupin. Paris: impr. P. Baudouin, 1838.

Literary tones
Comical, Farcical
Animations techniques
Glove-puppet, Trained animal
Not specified
Public domain


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Didier Plassard