The Toy Box

Pablo Cano’s Marionettes (2012)


About The Show

In 2003, my archival research included several unearthed letters that composer Claude Debussy wrote to his publisher. The Toy Box, a solo piano piece published in 1913, was originally intended for marionettes, but was never realized during the French composer’s lifetime. I performed and introduced the piece to the US as a marionette production in 2004, featuring performance artist Pablo Cano and choreographer Katherine Kramer, at MOCA MIAMI.

Containing French folk melodies, parodies of other composers and quotations from Debussy’s own works, the original musical score for “La Boîte à Joujoux” included drawings by artist Andre Hellé and a libretto that told the story of a love triangle between three dolls. The cast of characters reflected the tradition of Commedia dell’arte, including Polichinelle, Harlequin, Pierrot and other stock characters popular in European street theater. Only one pianist is known to have ever performed this piece with marionettes in Holland (1962) during a commemoration of Debussy’s birth. The Toy Box Revival in 2012 celebrated Debussy’s 150th birthday. Pablo Cano’s The Toy Box is commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami.