history and building


Image Foundry DE MAAN builds on the long tradition of the Mechels Stadspoppentheater, which was founded in 1948 by Jef Contryn, pioneer of the puppet theatre. Louis Contryn, Jef’s son, continued his dad’s tradition.

From 1995 to 2013 Willem Verheyden succeeded Louis Contryn as managing director. At the same time he combined the functions of artistic director, writer and stage director at DE MAAN. He wrote and directed Roos, Neuze Neuze, Ik wil een vis zijn and many other MAAN productions.

In July 2013 Stef De Paepe was appointed general and artistic director. He had already built up a reputation as stage director, instructor, writer and actor. He had worked with great names and renowned theatre companies. De Paepe has transformed the original figure theatre into a medium-sized, multimedia art house for children and young people.

Stef De Paepe’s efforts to expand the visual playing field have yielded more than satisfactory results. As director/author he was responsible for successful (and often daringly provocative)  performances such as Kleine Rode Eva (Little Red Eva), Uilskuiken en Takkeling or Pjotr en de Wolfski, an adaptation of Peter and the Wolf.

Paul Contryn, Louis Contryn’s son, remains an established name in the world of the puppet/figure theatre as maker, performer, draughtsman and painter. In consultation with the house director and external makers, Paul always strives for an appropriate form to serve the narrative. He is not limited to one kind of material, one kind of figures or one particular kind of objects, but constantly considers alternative solutions.

The Building

In november 2015 Image Foundry DE MAAN moved to its new premises, 3 Minderbroedersgang, 2800 Mechelen. Postcards are always welcome!

DE MAAN’S new premises consist of offices, a workshop, a large and a small theatre plus amenities. Most probably you have already seen the golden cube, inspired by the Moon Lander, the first manned vehicle to land on the moon during the Apollo XI mission. In 2015, after a two-year period of reconstruction and renovation, DE MAAN finally landed.  We wish to explicitly thank the City of Mechelen.

The new premises are state of the art architecture in terms of child-friendliness and fire safety. The new section was built by the architectural firm Import/Export, the historic buildings (De Heilige Geestkapel and the Heilige Geesthuis) were renovated by Beeck architects. City architect Barbara Adriaensen and her professional team supervised the building works.

The main assets of the new premises are: a culture café (owned/run by the city), a large theatre (175 seats) and a smaller theatre (124 seats) for rehearsals, research and smaller productions.

DE MAAN went through a long process, following the entire dossier. It was involved in all the fundamental choices and was responsible for the technical equipment of the rooms. An example of good practices in the field of cooperation between the city and a non-profit organization.

We are very happy to be able to welcome our audience to this warm new place.