The performance

Few people in the fashion business have been as prolific and influential as Coco Chanel. But in one aspect, she may have been more ahead of her time than expected. Her staging of her own person and life story is no longer considered cynical nor questionable – today her career building strategies are almost basic knowledge for anyone who wants to climb ladders, be it in business or social life.

Coco Chanel was an icon of gracefulness. With her bold designs she liberated women from the corset. Her eventful life tells us the story of a woman, who despite being an orphan rose to the French upper class. For modern women today her name is a symbol for equality and freedom. Every time period have their diseases, but are we ourselves able to pin-point a diagnosis for our own era? And if so, can we use Coco Chanel for this purpose, without making her a hostage for an opinion or a conclusion? Art is free but we still have a responsibility towards historical facts. Nevertheless, one should be free to wonder and imagine the innermost thoughts of individuals that have defined who we are as citizens of the modern world. And especially when the individual of scrutiny was quite a theatre director herself.

As reality is tangering theatre, illusion seems to become the new truth.
Perhaps this is where puppets can help us.
After all they are the masters of illusion.

Ulrike Quade and Jo Strømgren are fascinated by the complex history of Coco Chanel. As a master of illusion Chanel consistently chose to mythologize herself. She controlled the way the world looked at her, while at the same time her fashion has become a symbol for emancipation. The performance Coco Chanel seeks to investigate the influence fashion has on our society. How a costume becomes a body and how a body becomes a puppet.

COCO is the third collaboration between Ulrike Quade Company and Jo Strømgren Kompani and a sought-after continuation of the particular style these two companies have created together, featuring hyper-realistic puppets, portrayal of historical people, intriguing walks between documentaric facts and provocative insinuations, and a great dash of wild imaginative theatre. Previous productions have explored the lives and controversies of Knut Hamsun, Vincent van Gogh, and Edvard Munch.

Duration: 1 hour, no interval
Language: optional version in English, Dutch, German or French
Premiere: April 13, 2017, Theater Bellevue, Amsterdam
New Premiere: March 1, 2019, Puppentheater Bühnen, Halle

A co-production between Jo Strømgren Kompani and Ulrike Quade Company.


© Michiel Voet
Coco chanel 12 © sanne peper
© Sanne Peper
Original 6
© Sanne Peper
Coco chanel 08 © sanne peper
© Sanne Peper
Coco chanel 10 © sanne peper
© Sanne Peper
Coco chanel 02 © sanne peper
© Sanne Peper
Coco chanel 05 © sanne peper
© Sanne Peper
Coco chanel 09 © sanne peper
© Sanne Peper

A magical production

Haarlems Dagblad, Netherlands

Previously touring

Belgium, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Norway, Russian Federation


Concept and directing: Ulrike Quade and Jo Strømgren
Original performers: Ester Natzijl, Ilija Surla & Indra Cauwels
Performers 2018/19: Céline Mathieu, Marjolein Vogels & Ilija Surla
Set Design: Jo Strømgren
Lighting Design Floriaan Ganzevoort
Composers: Strijbos & Van Rijswijk
Puppet Design & Creation: Ulrike Quade
Assistent Puppet Creation: Maria Landgraf
Costume Design: Jacqueline Steijlen
Assistant Director: Anne van Dorp
Dramaturgical Advice: Thomas Lamers
Intern Puppet Creation: Hannah Baudouin
Technicians: Niels Runderkamp & Richard Bron
Photographer: Michiel Voet