The history of Guignol
The history of this theatre and its only original boss, Guignol, begins with a silkworker born in Lyon: Laurent Mourguet (1769-1844). In 1797, Laurent Mourguet became a tooth puller, and incorporated some Italian glove puppets, the burattini, into his work to reassure and distract his patients.
In 1804, he started working as a professional. According to tradition, Guignol appeared in 1808. His look is said to be based on a self-portrait of Laurent Mourguet. The first Guignol theatre appeared in 1838, at the Caveau des Célestins café. It was created by Etienne Mourguet and Louis Josserand, respectively son and grandson of Laurent Mourguet who accompanied them until his death in 1844.
In 1907, Pierre Neichthauser, husband of Eléonore Josserand, herself the great-granddaughter of Laurent Mourguet, founded the Quai Saint-Antoine theatre with Ernest Neichthauser. This great theatre of Guignol contributed to the revival of the image of the glove puppet in France and abroad, especially with personalities such as Fernandel and Joséphine Baker.
In 1966, Hélène and Jeanne Neichthauser were forced to pass on more than 265 puppets as well as their texts and sets to the city of Lyon, and were moved to 2 rue Louis Carrand, in the cellars of the Palais Bondy. The Neichthausers left the rue Louis Carrand in 1981. Another descendant of the creator of Guignol took over the management of the theatre in 1983: Jean Brunel, known as Jean-Guy Mourguet. The actor Christian Cappezzone succeeded him in 1990, and then the Compagnie des Zonzons in 1998.
The Compagnie M.A., previously created in 2010 by Emma Utges, finally took over the management of the Théâtre Le Guignol de Lyon in 2017. The troup still creates and plays in the Neichthauser room today, and hopes to welcome you to this theater for a long time to come!
FOURNEL, Paul. L’Histoire véritable de Guignol. Editions Fédérop. Paris, 1975.
BRIONE, Isabelle. "Jean-Guy Mourguet et Guignol : retour sur un vie de Saltimbanque", Le Progrès. 2019.