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Newly extended Toone puppet theatre reopens

10:13 15/11/2018

Brussels' last-remaining puppet theatre, the Royal Toone, has reopened after two years of renovation and expansion works.

The theatre, near the Grand-Place, now has a new museum space, improved reception facilities and is accessible to wheelchair users. Three adjoining 17th-century buildings, which were empty, were renovated for the 300m² extension project.

There is also a new storage area for the theatre's 1,200 puppets, many of which - until now - had to be stored in a separate facility in Schaerbeek. The €1.3 million project was funded by regional works agency Beliris.

Brussels once boasted about 50 puppet theatres, catering for people who could not afford the theatre or opera. Toone has existed since 1830 and welcomes about 10,000 spectators every year and puts on four performances a week - as well as bespoke shows for school groups.

"When I bought this place in 1965, people thought I was a madman," said José Géal, aka Toone VII. "It was really run down. We fully restored it in the 1970s, which left me in a lot of debt."

Written by The Bulletin