Joris Joseph was the inspirer of Ultima Thule, which grew from his puppet theatre Schokkeljoen, later his puppet theatre Joris Jozef (1979). Already then, his theatre was characterized by a strong visual and verbal design and the powerful rhythm of the shows.
From the 1950s on, puppet theatre was mostly oriented towards children and had a predominantly educational character. Joris Joseph strongly went against this. He called it ‘hurrah-puppetry’ and wanted to achieve a state of silent wonder with the audience, consisting of children as well as adults.
Figure theatre Ultima Thule grew from a fusion of Puppet Theatre Joris Jozef and Wannepoe (a puppet theatre from Leuven, founded in 1988) on the 17th of September 1993.
First based in Antwerp, Ultima Thule moved to Ghent in 2008, where we are active to the day.
Joris Joseph passed away on the 31st of May 2015.
During his illness he wrote the following poem:
I’ve called my life Ultima Thule
The known unknown to be discovered
This dark unattainable unnamed
Edgar Allan Poe wrote it down
He hadn’t seen the Ultima Thule
Of his suffering or more
Now this cancer is the beginning of mine
The unknown known it toils
I surmise an ending past the line
It’s the way it is and ought to be
"Wim De Wulf"
In 2001, Wim De Wulf became the artistic director of Ultima Thule. He gave this characteristic language to our shows, with which he conveys the ‘great stories of the small folks’. The shows start from a personal story, embedded in a social context. Under Wim De Wulf, Ultima Thule presented visual narrative theatre.
In Etcetera of February 2014, it is described like this:
With Wim, Ultima Thule has grown to become a figure theatre for (young) adults, that narrates with greatness and powerfully evokes universal themes in stories about small people. (Gomaartrilogie, Door de bomen het bos....) The language pumps, the music is loud, the puppets are expressive, almost expressionistic, the scenery consists of loose, mostly wooden elements that suggest locations through shifts and replacements. The manipulators of the puppets do not only provide the figures with voices and movements, they also perform themselves, like an extension of the characters and as narrators.
Wim De Wulf passed away on the 29th of July 2016.
"The three titles Stekezotvanu, Wiedatterieris and ‘Tisaltijdiet explicitly indicate the applied language register. The artistic director of Ultima Thule, the musician/theatre maker/author Wim De Wulf wrote it in a hobnailed and stout language that reminds us of the works of the Flemish expressionist painter Constant Permeke."
Sven Ronsijn, already involved with Ultima Thule for while as an actor, director or writer, takes over the artistic helm from Wim De Wulf in 2017. Under Sven Ronsijn, the narrative text theatre of De Wulf evolves into a multidisciplinary figure theatre, in which, for every show, there is a new search for the right materials, visual language, music, objects, puppets or figures to tell a specific story.
"You’re hoping that the applause will wait as long as possible, so the emotion of the love that has no age can keep reverberating to the full."
"(...) De Stroom is a capturing, very contemporary youth performance with a total image that doesn’t let go of you for a second and shows a superior level of figure manipulation."