Pulcinella et la Révolution française - Bruno Leone


39 pages


Pulcinella et la Révolution française

Bruno Leone | 1989 | Naples, Italy
Marionnettiste, Pulcinella, Roi, Ministre, Les gardes, Polichinelle, Danton, Robespierre, Empereur, Pape
Number of acts

This show was written by Bruno Leone to mark ten years of his career and the bicentenary of the French Revolution. It was performed for the first time at the French Institute in Naples on 22 May 1989. On this occasion, members of the audience received as a gift a little book printed by the French Institute with the text of the show and illustrations by Guiseppe Antonello Leone, Bruno’s father. The title and stage directions were in French, but the text was trilingual (French, Neapolitan, Italian). Pulcinella and the puppeteer speak Neapolitan or Italian, while the other characters speak French.

Plot summary

In search of a better life

After performing a traditional guarattelle show, the puppeteer and his Pulcinella think they won’t have anything to eat as the audience left without paying. They both decide to leave Naples for France. When they arrive at court, the King carefully examines Pulcinella with a magnifying glass, and finds him too poor, so drives him away. Pulcinella beats the King with a stick and the guards come to arrest him. The puppet escapes from the puppet booth with the Puppeteer, who explains that if the puppet wants to eat, he must “change his face”.

The Puppeteer then turns Pulcinella into Polichinelle, giving him new, luxurious clothes decorated with ribbons and little bells, two bumps (one on the belly and the other on the back) and a white mask to hide his black half-mask. Thus transformed, Pulcinella moves and speaks far more slowly, but his new lazzi with a cock amuse the King greatly. The puppet and the Puppeteer are able to eat a big plate of pasta in front of the puppet booth and go to
sleep with a full belly. Woken by the Marseillaise, they enter the puppet booth, believing a party is going on. On stage, in front of a guillotine, Robespierre and Danton debate whether the King should be tried. After cutting off the heads of Danton and the King, Robespierre also wants to kill Polichinelle, who is friends with the King. First, he cuts off one bump, and then the other, and finally the white mask. Polichinelle, who has now gone back to being “Pulcinella the revolutionary”, cuts off Robespierre’s head and then, like Napoleon Bonparte, proclaims himself emperor and uses a stick to beat, one after the other, the emperor of Austria and the Pope who has come to crown him. He shows his emperor’s crown to the
Puppeteer: it means he’ll be able to eat for 200 years. The Puppeteer comes out of the booth for a last monologue at the end of which he dons the black half-mask and proclaims himself to be Pulcinella.

Composition date

First performance

Naples, Italy, 22 mai 1989 -

Institut Français de Naples

Publications and translations


Bruno Leone, Pulcinella et la Révolution Française, Naples: Institut Français de Naples, 1989, 39 p.

Conservation place

Author's archives