Workshop The Bonecos de Santo Aleixo

Projeto Funicular: Workshop 



Directed by: José Russo & Ana Meira (Bonecos de Santo Aleixo)

10 to 13 de March 2022

Thursday to Sunday

São Luiz Teatro Municipal - Sala de Ensaios


⇨ Workshop Les Frères Pablof


An international training project on Puppetry by CAMa - Centro de Artes da Marioneta | A Tarumba

With the support of São Luiz Teatro Municipal

A special workshop with the goal of deepening the knowledge about the Bonecos de Santo Aleixo, as well as an approach to the manipulation and elocution techniques of this artistic reality with very unique characteristics in the panorama of traditional puppetry.


"The Bonecos de Santo Aleixo belong to a type that is an ancestor of all kinds, although the current wooden figures are just a copy, dating only from 1940, from the original models whose archaic characters are preserved even in the movement performed almost exclusively by means of a rod."
-Michel Giacometti


For: Puppeteers, actors, directors, visual artists, performing and visual arts students

Number of participants: 10

Workshop schedule: Thursday to Sunday from 4pm to 7pm
Working language: Portuguese

Fee: 50€

Deadline for applications: 3 March 2022
Attendance confirmation: 4 March 2022


Please note that if you apply for the two workshops ("The Bonecos de Santo Aleixo" and "Reality put to the test on stage",

directed by Les Frères Pablof), and are selected for both, you will receive a 20€ discount on the second workshop.



The registration in the workshop (subject to selection) is made by the duly filled application form and by enclosing a short bio and a motivation letter. You can send all the documentation by e-mail to: or



The training will cover the repertoire, the organization of the show, the manipulation and circulation of the Puppets, the characteristics of the characters, the musical intervention ensured, live, by a Portuguese guitar, the preparation of 'pês louro' (pine resin) that guarantees the surprising 'fogacheis' (flames), the small angel candles or the artisanal firecrackers and the use of the oil lamp that guarantees the lighting of the small wooden stage (retábulo) where the show takes place.


These processes are part of the work that has been carried out with the Bonecos de Santo Aleixo, namely in the preservation and enhancement of this important collection of Portuguese theatrical heritage.


Gone are the days when puppetry in Alentejo was one of the few entertainments for the people of these places, but the truth is that these “wooden figures” continue to fuel conversations in the village of Santo Aleixo that gave them their name, but also in many corners of the world, where the magic of the show even seems to make one forget the barrier of one's own language.

Photography: Paulo Nuno Silva


These traditional puppets from Alentejo region seem to have their origin in the village which gave them their name. They are puppets operated from above by rods, similar to the great marionettes of southern Italy and northern Europe, but tiny – between twenty and forty centimeters in height, and made of wood and cork, dressed in costumes which, as in the regular theatre, enable the characters in the story to be identified. An essential element in the performance is the set where it takes place, called the retable (originally a decorative screen behind an altar), which is built in wood and has floral hangings. It is a reproduction of a theatre stage in miniature, with a front curtain, painted scenery on cardboard, and stage lighting (an oil lamp). The music (Portuguese guitar) and the songs are performed live. The texts, based on oral tradition, presents a fusion of erudite theme and popular culture.

The “dynasty” of these puppets dates from the middle of the nineteenth century, but the oldest references is dated in the eighteenth century. The ones that arrived do the 21st century where unveiled to the public by Michel Giacometti and Henrique Delgado in 1967. The texts were “created” or “produced” by a certain Nepomucena, and transmitted orally, from parents to children, as well as the puppet set, until they reached the couple Manuel Jaleca and Antónia Maria, who had received them from their ancestors. This troupe travelled the region of upper Alentejo in a cart pulled by a mule, and usually performed in a barn or cellar. Jaleca continued the tradition in collaboration with António Talhinhas who eventually repurchased all the equipment. In 1978, the District Assembly of Évora acquired the whole material and entrusted these to the Centro Cultural de Évora, which, since 1980, collected the repertoire and, through rehearsals with Talhinhas himself, founded a new “family” with professional actors. The research was carried on by Alexandre Passos, who, in a first phase together with Manuel da Costa Dias, also compiled the repertoire. With the creation of the new “family” of Bonecos, the continuation of the tradition has been assured by the actors of the company, which guarantees the permanent authenticity of the show, and thus ensures the continuity of this expression of traditional Alentejo arts and unique in the world. Known and appreciated throughout the country, with frequent travels to the places where the show traditionally took place, the Bonecos de Santo Aleixo, owned by the Centro Dramático de Évora (CENDREV), regularly participate in many international events outside Portugal and are the hosts of BIME - Bienal Internacional de Marionetas de Évora.


The participants should bring:



⇨ COVID Safety Measures

Participants of all live workshops will need to have:

Digital certificate proving that the person has been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days / or certificate with a negative result within the last 24 hours (antigen test - TRAg) or 72 hours (TAAN test) / or certificate to prove that you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6 months.

Self-tests are not valid.

The use of mask inside the venue is mandatory.

Subject to change according to pandemic control measures.