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n i s k t l i t s l p e m Ru


by the Brothers Grimm


From the classic tale

Performed by Matthias Kuchta

What if a king thought you could spin straw into gold? What would you do if he told you to spin him an entire basket of gold “or else�? And what if a strange little man said he could help you? What would you be willing to give him in return? Use this Cuesheet to get ready for the puppet version of the classic fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin. Be sure to check out page five for activities you can do with other students, friends, or family.


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Telling Tales:Rump What Happens in the Story?

How the Tale Is Told

A long, long time ago, in a kingdom far away, there lived a miller with his daughter and a king who was very fond of money.

In this performance, a man named Matthias Kuchta (pronounced mah-TIE-us koo-CH-tah) tells the story of Rumpelstiltskin (rum-puhlSTILT-skin) using large puppets made by hand. In some shows, puppeteers—people who make and use puppets—hide during their performances. But not Matthias! You’ll see him use each of the puppets to tell the tale of a young woman and a little man’s strange offer of help.

One day, the miller brags to the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. Delighted by this news, the king sends for the young woman. The king tells her that if she doesn’t spin straw into gold before the night is over, she will die. What will she do? What will she tell the king in the morning? All seems lost—until a greedy little man with a terribly funny name comes to her rescue.… Or does he?

Meet the Puppets

THE KING is rich but wants to be even richer. (Yes, he’s greedy.) THE MILLER has the job of turning grain into flour. Hard work, but possible. This miller brags to the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. Hard work, and impossible!


THE MILLER’S DAUGHTER is stuck in the king’s castle and does not know what to do.

THE BABY is teeny-tiny and cries a lot, and loudly.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN is a mysterious character with a funny name. He helps the miller’s daughter— but wants something very important from her as payment for his help.

pelstiltskin The Brothers Grimm Almost 200 years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm—known as the Brothers Grimm— published their first collection of fairy tales in Germany. Do you know the story of Cinderella? Snow White? Rapunzel? Hansel and Gretel? These are all stories told by the Brothers Grimm.

Telling Stories with Puppets Matthias makes sure that each character in Rumpelstiltskin sounds, moves, and is dressed differently from any other. During the performance, follow along carefully to see how Matthias gives each character a unique personality: O Look at how the miller’s daughter keeps her hair out of her face. O Listen to the miller’s voice when he is bragging and how he wipes his nose. O See how the king shows that he likes expensive things. O Watch how Rumpelstiltskin pretends to be nice and helpful.


Wilhelm (left) and Jacob (right) published hundreds of tales about enchanted forests, fairy godmothers, wicked witches, and how good can triumph over evil.

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Far, Far A wa y

A Puppet Primer: Many Sizes, Many Shapes

Dusseldorf, Germany


Washington, DC USA

People have used puppets to tell stories, entertain, and teach lessons for thousands of years. Types of puppets include: O Finger—the puppet body fits on one finger O Hand/glove/sock—one hand moves the puppet from inside O Rod—named for the rods and sticks used to move the puppet O String or marionette—held up and moved by strings O Body—life-sized or bigger, body puppets are often seen in parades O Shadow—where a light shines on a cut-out shape and creates a large shadow on a screen

You are

HERE Both the Brothers Grimm and Matthias Kuchta are from the country of Germany, which is across the Atlantic Ocean.


T he Puppeteer and His Puppet s Some Facts About Matthias Kuchta O



Matthias grew up in a small town in Germany where every now and then something magical happened: A puppet company came to town! Young Matthias was so inspired that he and his friends decided to create their own performances. They built puppets, rehearsed, and performed shows. Matthias believes fairy tales help us to bravely face unexpected situations. He chose this story because it shows how a young woman can be courageous and overcome danger.

Matthias speaks and performs in many languages, including German, French, English, and Russian. At the beginning of the show, he will tell the audience what it’s like to perform in English.

Floor Puppets:

Making Them, Using Them

Floor puppets are large, life-sized puppets that sit on the stage floor and are moved by a puppeteer. As is true with most puppets, their facial expressions do not change, but their bodies can move in different ways. In Rumpelstiltskin, Matthias uses different voices and movements for each character. Matthias makes the puppets from fabric, including the cloth from old tee-shirts. The puppets’ “bones” are made of wood and stuffed with furniture foam to bump out the character’s muscles and stomachs, and to make them bend more easily. The smallest puppets take only a few days to make, while the larger ones can take up to two weeks.


ForTeachers and Parent s

Dear Grownups:

The information on this page is designed to help you further the adventure of Rumpelstiltskin with children.

Facing Fears

Warm Up Your Imagination

For Matthias, fairy tales have a lesson, also known as a moral. The moral of Rumpelstiltskin is that by naming your fears, you gain courage. By shouting out Rumpelstiltskin’s name, the miller’s daughter takes away his power. Rumpelstiltskin teaches children to be brave and never lose hope. There’s always a way to solve a problem—even if it seems impossible!

Here are some activities you may want to help children try after the performance:

During the performance, think about how the miller’s daughter feels. Is she scared? How do we know?

Make Your Own Puppet Choose your favorite character from the play and create your own puppet version of him or her. Consider using cardboard tubes and boxes, old socks and gloves, towels, pillow stuffing, string, or foam. Decorate your puppet. You can build a puppet theater out of couch cushions or cardboard boxes, or even use a sheet as a tent. Perform your show for friends and family.

Picture This! Draw the characters from Rumpelstiltskin. Did you include the king’s velvet coat and the young woman’s long hair? If you have the story of Rumpelstiltskin in a book at home, compare its pictures to the puppets in the performance. How are they similar? How are they different?

Change It Up Now you’re the storyteller. Imagine another possible ending for the story. Use puppets, pictures, and your storytelling skills as you share your new version of the story.


A Good Audience David M. Rubenstein Chairman Michael M. Kaiser President

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Darrell M. Ayers Vice President, Education


Alloy and Ms. Daris M. Clifton, the Carter and Melissa Cafritz Charitable Trust, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Clark Charitable Foundation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Fight for Children, The President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, National Committee for the Performing Arts, and Dr. Deborah Rose and Dr. Jan A. J. Stolwijk.

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For more about the performing arts and arts education, visit the Kennedy Center’s Education Department online at The U.S. Department of Education supports approximately one-third of the budget for the Kennedy Center Education Department. The contents of this Cuesheet do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

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German master puppeteer Matthias Kuchta presents the classic Brothers Grimm tale. Audiences will be enchanted with large-scale, life-sized p...


German master puppeteer Matthias Kuchta presents the classic Brothers Grimm tale. Audiences will be enchanted with large-scale, life-sized p...