Who's Who?

José Manuel Valbom Gil


The Dom Roberto theatre appears in my life in the 80's when I met Master Antonio Dias, one of the last puppeteers in Portugal to perform the traditional Don Roberto theatre. Through this contact I started very early to do puppet theatre. Being part of the College of Professors is an honour. Recognition by the peers themselves is a privilege that I will cherish forever.

I was born in the city of Alcobaça/Portugal in October 1968 and my whole life was dedicated to puppet theatre. I am currently finishing a Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Évora applied to the study of the Dom Roberto Theatre. Previously I took the Master's degree in Theatre, actor-puppeteer branch from the same university. I am also researcher/collaborator at CHAIA - Centre for History of Art and Artistic Research, the research unit of the University of Évora.

In the area of Puppet Theatre I had training with Manuel Dias, Isabel Andréa, Francisco Esteves, Isabel Alves Costa, João Paulo Cardoso, Michel Broquin, Christian le Diourom, Jean Luc Courcuolt.

I founded the company S.A.Marionetas - Teatro & Bonecos where I perform artistic direction and production since 1997. I have authored 42 dramatic texts for puppet theatre, and I am Artistic Director of the Festival Marionetas na Cidade since 1998.


← José Gil & Bruno Leone receiving their certificates from Clive Chandler in Portugal

I am the author of the book Dom Roberto Theatre - the traditional Portuguese travelling puppet theatre - the Bumpkin from Alcobaça and the new Swazzles, edited by the Lisbon Puppet Museum, and I have published several articles in puppet theatre magazines such as the Puppet Notebook and The UNIMA Portugal Magazine.

I gathered puppets with different arts such as contemporary dance, opera and experimental music.

With Dom Roberto theatre I received several awards and nominations around the world:

  • 2010 award - Preservation and continuity of puppet theatre in Prague at the World Puppet Festival of Prague - Czech Republic;
  • 2012 award - "Award of puppetry" 21st UNIMA congress & world puppet festival - Chengdu - China;
  • Nomination for best production for children at the international award "Golden Gander" Kremnické Gagy - Slovakia;
  • Nomination for Best Street Show at Wayang World Puppet Carnival - Jakarta - Indonesia;
  • 2013 award - Best traditional street puppet show at Wayang World Puppet Carnival - Jakarta - Indonesia;
  • 2013 award - "Best Traditional Show" Harmony World Puppet Carnival - Bangkok - Thailand;
  • 2014 award - "Best Animation" - Animart Festival - Lodz - Poland - 2016.

Dom Roberto


In Portugal, the popular hero comes to this day with the name of Dom Roberto, although in the 18th century, several are the designations for this glove puppet theatre. The prevalence of this name is, incidentally, connected to a comedy of literature of twine with great repercussion, titled "Robert of the Devil" or to a well-known entrepreneur of puppet theatre Robert Xavier de Matos.

However, although Dom Roberto’s theatre had known a notable success until, in the sixties of the twentieth century, not only through the pavilions that incorporated the fairs and pilgrimages but also in the beaches and cities, it survives nowadays thanks to the testimonies that came to us in a fragmentary and even controversial way.

Having had the privilege of direct contact with Master António Dias, I recreated, from his testimony, two pieces - "The Barber" and "The Bullfight". More recently, and in order to preserve this traditional art form, I have recovered three more pieces from Robertos' repertoire - "The Rose and the 3 Valentine", "The Castle of the Ghosts" and “The Bumpkin from Alcobaça”.

I intend, therefore, not to let the theatre of Robertos disappear as a Portuguese cultural heritage, preserving and presenting to all generations this hero always irreverent and very humorous.