Gianluca Di Matteo: Artisan Puppeteer

There is a whole world of puppets that, from Vanchiglia district brings its message of joy, empathy, positive vibes all over the country. That’s quite amazing since we know that the puppets and in particular the Pulcinella character recall the regional heritage of Campania. Although the Piemonte area hosts a wide and deep custom of puppets and puppet-shows.

We explore this magical dimension with the help of Gianluca Di Matteo, a professional and passionate artisan puppeteer. A native of Portici (here we are again in Campania) after a stage experience, Gianluca approached this craft almost by chance: the selection for the renowned “Scuola di Guattarelle” directed by Bruno Leone. He was admitted and there he learned the art of making puppets according to the Neapolitan custom. Subsequently, he took part in some puppet-shows organized in the hospitals, seniors, and day-care centers, all locations deeply rooted in the territory.

This kind of “imprinting”, that highlights and recognizes an effective therapeutic value of the puppet- show remained as a strong commitment in Gianluca’s work, even when, for love,  he decided to move to Torino, where he found new opportunities to develop his multifaceted art. “It’s true – he tells us – the puppeteer creates a therapeutic relationship with his public.

The Pulcinella’s drama has strong cathartic power, all the more necessary during this pandemic, bringing a deep feeling of wellness, joie de vivre, having all your senses elicited, being ‘infected’ by magic and ancient symbology becomes, also and moreover for kids, an extraordinary experience. And working in schools, where I hope to come back soon in presence, is for me really rewarding”.

You are a puppets artisan and also write the stories of the shows you bring all around the world: “Yes, the crafter and sculptor aspects fascinate me. I manage all the ‘supply chain’. I make my wooden characters, dress them, write the stories or adapt the traditional ones, and organize the show, which lays at the disposal of theatres, festivals, schools (through the project Mus-e), and Institutions all around the world. A voice that brings messages for a powerful rebirth, a life-giving power. Pulcinella is hermaphrodite, in love with Teresina, but also eggs laboring.

Pulcinella recalls never-ending symbols. He is disrespectful, doesn’t accept pre-established powers. Pulcinella is never overbearing, lives life and death with the same interest always according to the positive side. He is a character retraceable indeed in all Countries and at all ages. His voice directly talks to the souls and needs nothing more. Neither of me… he has an absolutely independent life; he takes the floor. After twenty years, I’m truly happy to ‘vanish’ in order to make his messages even stronger”. What an enchantment in these words! So much passion that we hope to see soon again on stages in theatres or town squares.