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Dom Roberto Theater
traditional Portuguese puppet theater
patrimonio robertos.jpg
Registered in the National Inventory of Intangible Heritage  INPCI_2021-003

Artistic File

Puppeteer: José Gil
Construction of Dolls and Props: José Gil
Seamstress: Maria Luísa Gil
Design: Natacha Pereira
Research: Sofia Vinagre and José Gil
Production: SAMarionetas - Teatro & Bonecos


Technique: Glove puppets

Height: 2.50 m / Width: 2 m / Depth: 2 m

Assembly: 15 minutes / Disassembly: 10 minutes

Over 4 years

The Robertos Theater certainly represents one of the oldest traditions of the performing arts, not only in its Portuguese and European aspects, but also in the popular heroes of the East. In fact, the origin of this popular art form of representation goes back, in the European tradition to the 16th century Italian Commedia dell 'Arte and it does not seem unlikely that the Eastern traditions have had any influence on the evolution of this traditional type of representation. .
It is during the following century that the ambulation of artists, mainly French and Italian, provides a mixture of this type of theater, its evolution being closely related to the cultural specificities of each country. In any case, constant strokes cut across all European traditions of popular heroes: the subversive / burlesque character of texts and representations, the use of reeds that emit high-pitched sounds (both ideal for capturing the public's attention as well as for enhancing gesture synchronization) / sound, so important in creating an appearance of "life" in the little glove dolls) and, finally, the invincibility of the heroes, capable of even overcoming the worst of enemies - death. However, it is interesting to highlight the peculiarity of the Portuguese branch, since all the characters involved have a "reed voice".
In Portugal, the popular hero comes to our days with the name of D. Roberto, although, in the 18th century, there are several designations for this glove puppet theater. The prevalence of this name is, perhaps, linked to a cordel comedy with great repercussion, entitled "Roberto do Diabo" or to a well-known puppet theater entrepreneur, Roberto Xavier de Matos.

However, in spite of the Robertos theater having enjoyed a remarkable success until, roughly, in the sixties of the 20th century, not only through the pavilions that incorporated the fairs and pilgrimages, but also on the beaches and cities, it survives, today, thanks to the testimonies that came to us in a fragmentary and even controversial way, left by the master puppeteers Domingos Bastos Moura and António Dias and by the owner of one of the famous pavilions (Pavilhão Mexicano), Manuel Rosado. SAMarionetas, having had the privilege of direct contact with Mestre António Dias, one of the last popular Portuguese puppeteers, recreated, based on his testimony, two pieces - “O Barbeiro” and “A Tourada”. More recently, and seeking to preserve this traditional art form, the company has recovered three more pieces from the Robertos Theater repertoire - “A Rosa e os 3 Namorados”, “O Castelo dos Fantasmas” and "O Saloio de Alcobaça"

The intention is thus not to let Robertos' theater disappear as a Portuguese cultural heritage.


Prize - "Best Manipulation" MATERINKA Festival - Liberec -Czech Republic - 2021

 - "Preservation of traditions of ancient street theater" 1st Kyiv international festival of puppet theater - Ukraine - 2017

- "Best Traditional Show"  Harmony World Puppet Carnival - Bangkok - Thailand 2014

-  "Best Traditional  Street show"  Wayang World Puppet Carnival - Jakarta - Indonesia - 2013

- "Preservation and continuity of European puppet theater" (14th world puppet art festival in Prague)- 2010

- Prize - "Best Manipulation" MATERINKA Festival - Liberec -Czech Republic - 2021

"The Castle of Ghosts" + "The Barber" + "The Bullfight"
Show Duration: Approx. 25/30 minutes

each session is usually composed of two stories that can be combined
among the 5 available in the repertoire. Never exceeding a maximum of 3 stories per session
(there are small gaps between representations)

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Synopses of the stories


The Diabolic Barber

Don Roberto, our hero, on his wedding day looks for a barber to undo his beard and hair. After the service was done, Dom Roberto did not want to pay because he thought it was too expensive. He has a big disagreement with the Barber. Father arrives to resolve the matter. The police still try to order on the street. The Devil appears who wants to take him with him and finally Death. Dom Roberto ends up winning his own death.


The Castle of Ghosts

The Princess is trapped in the Castle and it is full of ghosts. A Crocodile that is always trying to eat everything. A Giant that keeps the Princess trapped. Don Roberto, when passing near the castle, sees the Princess trapped and she promises him: if he will release her home with him. Upon hearing such a promise, Dom Roberto will try to win everything and everyone to marry the beautiful princess.


The Bullfight

The Bullfighter, will try to bullfight the Bull, but he doesn't seem to understand what he wants. After several attempts, the Bullfighter there manages to do something about the Taurus, which after all was nothing stupid. Then the Forcados appear to dance the fandango preparing to make the famous and risky catch of the guys with the Taurus.


Rosa and the three boyfriends

Rosa has three boyfriends, the Shoemaker, the Goldsmith and the Brazilian. Everyone promises you a lot of gold goods and money. One day, when the bosses left, they left the house in the care of Rosa and she received the view of her boyfriends. Afraid of being caught, Rosa hides her boyfriends around the house. When the bosses arrived, they heard noise and thought there were thieves at home. The Police appears and this is the installed confusion.


The Saloio de Alcobaça

Saloio goes to the city to try to sell fruits and vegetables and says he is from Alcobertas, but he can't sell anything. Everyone laughs at him. Maria Varina, who was selling fish, notices and helps him. Rui Valente, jealous, challenges him to fight with a stick. The brothers João and zé Porradas thought he was rich and try to keep the money. But in the end, Saloio happened to be from Alcobaça home to Maria Varina.

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"The Barber" and "The Bullfight"

"The Castle of Ghosts"

"Rose and the Three Lovers"

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