Ishmael Falke’s Personal Working Contract

Ishmael Falke’s Personal  Working Contract

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Ishmael Falke is a “Puppet-Master”: he’s the person pulling the strings – literally. 

Across multiple languages and cultures, Ishmael’s occupation has become synonymous with behind-the-scenes manipulation, control and the exercise of power over others. Everything in other words, that Ishmael rejects. 

Ishmael’s response? A personal working contract rooted in freedom, spontaneity and play. Part poem, part manifesto: Ishmael’s working contract is the expression of a personal ethics which guides not only his interactions with puppets, but with humans and their organisations as well. 

It would be tempting to adopt this working contract wholesale as a blueprint for a utopian work philosophy, but that would be missing the point. This is Ishmael’s working contract; no-one else’s. 



1. There will be breath in my work.
2. My work will consist of three equally important parts: things that i know how to do, things i don’t know how to do, and things that i discover at the very moment of doing them.
3. I will try to take reality as a miracle, a riddle or a game. i will keep my senses open for learning my art from any possible sources – children, dogs, sand in the wind, drunkards, train stations, melting ice and vegetable sellers.
4. Knowledge becomes a knowledge only when it is passed on to others. I will openly share my knowledge always when possible.
5. I will not impose on a puppet any kind of story or visual concept, neither movements, positions or sounds.
6. I will do my best to assist materials and objects to tell their own story.
7. Play is already half of my work. I will spare the time for playing with materials, puppets and scenery.
8. Puppets and their parts will be allowed to travel from one performance to the other and to exchange identity.
9. The so called co-incidents and mistakes during the working process will be appreciated as a gift from life; their results will not be rejected.
10. I will take care that my work will not serve the politics of war, racism and exploitation. Therefore i will not co-operate with organizations who create it or culturally support these attitudes in society.
11. When producing a performance, i will always try to work as far as possible on the base of sharing, using networks and other open equal systems; i will do my best to avoid the capitalist market.
12. Time is not money, it is much more valuable. I will be realistic and will not give too much importance to financing when creating.
“One day is one hundred thousand shows” -Joel Falke, 4 years old.
Last signed: 25th January, 2021
Ishmael Falke

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