The arrival of new development trends in puppetry from the 1930s

The arrival of new development trends in puppetry from the 1930s

At the beginning of the twentieth century have been many new, same in puppetry ...
In 1929 on the occasion of the International Puppetry Exhibiton representative European puppeteers met in the Realm of Puppets and founded the international association of puppeteers UNIMA and Jindřich Veselý was elected its first president.

The efforts in the 1930s to find new styles was instigated by renewed interest in the staging of plays for live actors. Unlike in previous years, this decision wasn´t made in an effort to spice up the repertoire. Many young directors produced particularly challenging texts with a distinguished tradition of performance in order to test their directorial abilities: for example in the Prague Sokol there were productions of Goethe´s Faust, Shakespeare´s Hamlet, and Vrchlický´s melodrama Pelop´s Courtship.

The most significant event in this regard was the study of Sophocle´s Oedipus (1933) in Libeř. The director and the creator of this production Jan Malík (1904–80) was a member of the Sokol Puppet Theater in Prague-Libeř from 1923. He started there as an actor and author, later as a director and scenographer. In his work he blended artistic work with efforts to achieve deeper theoretical and historical knowledge of the puppet theatre.

In September 1936 Jiří Trnka opened The Wooden Theatre a professional puppet venue in Prague. Following the unrealized plans of the Art Puppet Theatre Trnka´s theatre became a serious attempt to create a professional theatre in Prague. The Wooden Theatre excelled through the high standard of its artistic elements. Trnka´s puppets appealed to audiences with their lyricality, emotional warmth and fantastic imagery. By February 1937 the theatre presented four premieres: the greatest successes were J. Trnka and J. Kuncman´s play Among the Beetles and J. Menzel´s Vasil and the Bear. By completely rejecting fairy stories with the obligatory Kašpárek and seeking new subjects in prosaic children´s literature, Trnka to a certain degree anticipated the future tendencies of Czech puppetry of the second half of the 20th century. Trnka realised this conception of the modern puppet theatre and its specific nature, by letting animals and animated objects, completely run the stage of his theatre. Economic problems prevented the theatre from continuing, although its short period of operation left its mark on Czech puppeteering. J. Trnka later carried many of his artistic and directorial conceptions over to his animated films, for which he achieved world recognition.

Author: Alice Dubská
Czech Puppet Theatre over the Centuries
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