Puppet theatre

In the journal Dockteatern (Puppet Theatre), number 4, from 2007, there is a report, “Squash i taket” (“Squash in the ceiling"). You can read there about the 30-year-anniversary of Staffan Björklund's theatre. Neither the Arlöv Quartet Theatre Company, the Kärran Theatre Company, nor my name were mentioned in the article.

I am hereby putting right this account. All the information is verified in press cuttings or in public documents.


Theatre program 1988-1989
Sydsvenskan nov - 1988

The Kärran theatre company, up to 1994

Having known each other for 9 years, been members in the same orienteering club – OK Silva in the municipality of Kävlinge – and, among other things, participated in two summer revues in the town of Gilleleje in Denmark in 1976 and 1977, Staffan Björklund and I – Mårten Gantelius – founded the Arlöv Quartet Theatre Company (Teatersällskapet Arlövskvartetten HB) as a general partnership in 1978.

In 1980, we converted to a limited company by buying an existing limited company with a split financial year.

The main income of the theatre company comprised the “large” shows which were mostly performed on tour. We also produced some plays just for the theatre in Hög – the old school located between the towns of Kävlinge and Löddeköpinge – such as H.C. Andersen’s “The Shirt Collar" and the entirely self-produced “On the Heights of Olympus” and “The Puppet and the Poet”. In addition, we had numerous small productions - toy theatre, shadow theatre, summer theatre, a production of “Red Roses are Yellow” together with Jytte Abildström, artistic director at the Riddersalen theatre in Copenhagen, “The Cat that Went its Own Way”, etc.

Up to 1980, Staffan and I produced and recorded the children’s radio series “That’s how it was when we were small”, 5 x 5 programmes of 15 minutes. We also produced a series about the Stone Age, and one about the Viking Period, each consisting of five programmes, and a one hour radio theatre for young people, "Eva, Look Ahead". “South of Sweden Advice” was recorded and broadcast once a week for about half a year.

Late in the autumn of 1983, we made a TV series – “The Theatre House” – consisting of five programmes, each of 30 minutes duration, with Sonja Pleijel from Malmö TV as the producer.

In 1985, we changed name to the Kärran Theatre Company (Teatersällskapet Kärran), that is, the Cart Theatre Company.

Major productions:

The Helping Jester 1978
The Harmony Jester 1979
Small Secrets 1980
Kaleidoscope 1981
Whirlwind 1982
The Miniature Adventure 1983
The Cart of Thespis 1985
Menagerie fantasy 1986
The Girl and the Sea 1988
The Happy Farmer 1989 (One man show SB)
The Singing Boy 1990 (One man show MG)

During the entire 1980s, we had one-year, written contracts with the municipality of Kävlinge, which entailed the theatre company carrying out work in the municipality corresponding to the operating costs of the theatre property.

A large part of the contract consisted of work with a youth group – naturally changing during the course of the years – with which we produced shows that were performed in all the branches of the municipal library. In association with the production of Kaleidoscope, we carried out a somewhat large collaboration with the schools and youth recreation centres of Kävlinge municipality, which resulted in 8 performances of Circus Yayati – four of them public. About 50 children from the fifth and sixth grades of the municipality’s youth recreational centres and music school took part in the performances. At the inauguration of Kävlinge theatre, Staffan and I acted as comperes, as a part of the contract. Etc., etc.

Every year, the municipality of Kävlinge voluntarily bought a programme at the theatre for all the six-year-olds in the municipality. There was never any demand from Kärran’s part that the municipality should buy our performances in preference to those of other children’s theatre groups. Quite the contrary.

In the spring of 1990, I bought Staffan Björklund's shares in the Kärran theatre company (Teatersällskapet Kärran AB) and took over ownership of the theatre company in its entirety. All that Staffan took with him to Pegasus Garden were a few puppets and props that he wanted. At the same time, he started his theatre group, Staffan Björklunds teater. After this, I invested about half a million SEK in the conversion of the old school at Hög into a complete theatre.

Together with Bertil Mauritzon – an artist and Guignol expert - I arranged in the spring of 1991 a special performance at the new theatre of José Luis Gonzalez and Le vrai Guignol des Champs Elysées.

In June 1992, Bertil Mauritzon arranged a small festival outside Ystad. Those invited by Bertil were Sir Percy Press with Punch and Judy, Philippe Cassidanus and José-Luis Gonzalez with Le vrai Guignol des Champs Elysées, the Puppet Theatre Workshop (Dockteaterverkstan) from Osby with a Kasper puppet show, and the Kärran theatre company with “The Singing Boy”.

In August 1992, I offered the Kävlinge municipal assembly the opportunity to buy the entire theatre company for 800 000 SEK. My hope was that the theatre would continue under the management of the municipality. The municipal assembly turned down the offer.

In 1993 and 1994, I took part in the Danish children’s theatre meetings at Ålborg and Fyn, respectively, with “Den syngende dreng” – The Singing Boy, as I had translated/adapted it to Danish in 1991.

The limited company that was the Kärran theatre company was wound up in 1994, without having become bankrupt or without having any creditors. In the autumn of 1993, I dismantled the theatre in Hög and rebuilt it in the children’s theatre in Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen. Revival with “Christmas in Englely” with a dozen participating children from Christiania. I donated the curtain, the electrical system and the stage floor to Christiania. The theatre bus – a specially furnished Mercedes – I donated to a Latvian music group. I still have most of the puppets.

Yours faithfully

Mårten Gantelius