With Bare Hands
for school children age 6 - 11
a family performance or a performance for adults

With Bare Hands consists of a number of interrelated everyday scenes. The performance is filled with gags, surprises and subtleties, but also with thought-provoking silence. It is based on transformations - transformations in which a fly - a small, but nevertheless significant, fly - gets involved. The show also contains an extra number, Little Red Ridinghood, which we relate in our own personal way: a parody on dramatic narrative and a gentle poke at our own medium.

With Bare Hands gets as close as is humanly possible to the innermost essence of puppet theatre. Via a succession of festivals and guest performances, both in Sweden and abroad, the play has achieved an international reputation.

Apart from Little Red Ridinghood, With Bare Hands is a wordless performance. Although its title also suggests a puppetless performance, apart from our hands we do in fact use rod puppets, glove puppets, objects, gloves and even a marionette.

Devised, written and directed by Anders Lindholm and Cecilia Billing, who also designed and constructed the puppets and set. In performance they are the puppeteers.
The music was composed by Björn Larsson.


Technical specifications:  
Audience: 75 children + adults (max 100 persons in all at a family performance)
Duration: 45 min
Playing area: Cleared floor-space or low stage: breadth 5 m, depth 4 m, free height 2.4 m
Rigging time: 1 hour
Striking time: 45 min
Blackout: Full blackout facility is required.
Electricity: Regular 10-Amp wall sockets.



Svenska Dagbladet

Dockteaterverkstan's With Bare Hands is also wonderfully original and entertaining for all ages. With ingenuity and inventiveness it uses choreography for gloved hands and presents subtle scenes for skilful puppets - with a delightfully absurd version of Little Red Riding Hood as an extra number.

Karin Helander

Dagens Nyheter

One can also show boldness when working on a smaller scale. Dockteaterverkstan from Osby do this when, as a finale to their astonishingly adroit performance of "With Bare Hands", they deliver an ironic paraphrase of Little Red Riding Hood. By poking unrestrained fun at a well- known story and at the dopiest sort of puppet theatre, they manage to make the difficult concept of irony understandable to the youngest children.

Pia Huss

The Puppetry Journal
Puppets in the green mountains

The final show of the festival was the Swedish Dockteaterverkstan's With Bare Hands. It was a strong finish to a very fine festival. Anders Lindholm and Cecilia Billing have arguably come as close to the essence of puppetry as anyone I've ever seen. Though the title suggests a play without puppets, they actually do use hand puppets, rod puppets - even a string puppet! They show the "life" of puppets, though, as springing from the hands (and head and heart) of the puppeteer. Played almost without words, this series of interrelated sketches is filled with laughs and a few poignant relationship with Mother than with Dad, and when at night it has finally worn its parents out, it manages to into its parent's bed and replace Dad altogether!

Dockteaterverkstan's puppets are often technically complex, but in this show the puppets are generally simple. The high levels of invention, surprise and originality were put in the service of my favorite sort of puppetry: that which can be performed by actors.

Andrew Periale


The Bielsko Puppet Festival 1994, 1996
Telling the story

The swedish "Dockteaterverkstan" disposed scoffingly with possibilities of telling in a theatre always fashinable and current tale about Little Red Riding Hood. A little puppet looking like a good-natured woman and sitting on the edge of a chest - a store of all theatre props and conventional meanings - develops the narrative patiently and categorically. The puppet is animated by an invisible actress who also gives the puppet her voice. The actor organizing events on visual level tries with great difficulty to keep up with the course of the tale. Funny and humouristic troubles appear every moment. Little Red Riding Hood fits with difficulty in wolf's stomach. Out of limitations of puppets and objects - treated literally - an anti-fairy is created, an excellent parody of theatrical narration and very successful theatre play.

Marja Schejbal


Norra Skåne
For both children and adults

To be able to amuse both children and adults at the same time is a difficult art. But Cecilia Billing and Anders Lindholm at Dockteaterverkstan succeed in doing so. We were given proof of this when they performed With Bare Hands at the library in Hassleholm yesterday. "Swedish adults are hard to entertain, we know that. But finding a good way to evoke honest laughter from the children isn't that easy either," says Cecilia Billing from Dockteaterverkstan. Yet with their play she and Anders Lindholm manage the feat of amusing both big and small at the small time with just their bare hands. The recipe seems to be portions of irony mixed with opportunities for each of the spectators to recognise themselves. And that's just what both adults and children do, if not throughout the play at least now and again. To assist them, the couple behind the characters have more or less just their hands, dressed in gloves of different colour and design depending on what they are supposed to be. Speech is used very little and is replaced by squeaks, hums, moans and tunes.

The fortyfive-minute play is intended for people aged six and upwards. The lower age-limit has been set with regard to the fact that smaller children have difficulty in appreciating the action and irony in many of the scenes. But an upper age-limit is, as we've said, unnecessary. It's all so ironical and charmingly funny at times that even the most tight-lipped person would find it hard not to smile.

A much appreciated part of the play, which consists of eleven scenes, is when the baby mittenis put to bed but doesn't want to sleep alone. So when mummy and daddy mitten retire it tries to sneak into their bed, but gets put back in its own cot time after time. At last mummy and daddy have both fallen asleep, so the baby pushes daddy out of bed and takes his place. "That's funny! He doesn't wake up," we heard a child in the audience say next moment. The sudden outburst came when daddy mitten didn't react either to the alarm-clock or to mummy mitten shaking him.

The ironic version of Little Red Riding Hood was quite something too. A hand puppet in the form of a woman tells the story clumsily assisted by Anders himself who looks after the props. This light-hearted play is definitely not just for children; adults certainly get equally well entertained by its irony and witticisms.

Christina Solding




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