Puppet theatre not only about puppets

EVIDENCE of just how rapidly puppet theatre has evolved into an alternative art form, utilising various objects, human actors and even the audience as puppets, was on display at the V4 Countries’ Theatres vol. 16 held in Nitra on June 9-11.

EVIDENCE of just how rapidly puppet theatre has evolved into an alternative art form, utilising various objects, human actors and even the audience as puppets, was on display at the V4 Countries’ Theatres vol. 16 held in Nitra on June 9-11.

The theatre festival is organised by the Old Theatre of Karol Spišák in Nitra (SDKŠ) with the goal to create an event where people of the V4 countries’ theatres and art schools can meet, discuss and admire each other’s work. On average, 200 to 300 people attend the event each year, while some theatres outside the V4 countries also participate, SDKŠ actor Katarína Petrusová told The Slovak Spectator. This year, 21 performances, two concerts and several discussions took place at the festival.

Puppet theatre was originally not intended for children, and it was, in fact, not uncommon for performances to confront contemporary political issues. Many performers at this year’s event sought to bring this element of political commentary back into the genre, as well as a broader interpretation of what actually constitutes a puppet.

Despite the participation of numerous puppet theatres, this is not an orthodox puppet theatre festival, but rather, a festival of symbols which can be depicted by puppets, various objects, voices and so on, festival director Veronika Gabčíková told The Slovak Spectator.

“Each of those objects representing a living being is a puppet,” Gabčíková said. “Even a person can be puppet. This is a global trend.”

Moreover, performances at the event continue to be held in closer proximity to the audience, as actors are choosing smaller venues for their representations instead of big theatres. They also interact with their audience, and touch them or talk to them during the performance, Petrusová said.

Reflecting current political issues

This year, several performances and discussions directly or indirectly referenced socialism, Russian politics and the current crisis in Ukraine. For example, Czech theatre Divadlo Líšeň displayed an adaptation of A Russian Diary, the book by murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. It covered part of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, representing Putin as a matryoshka doll.

Gabčíková explained that puppet theatre was originally street art meant for adults, with political commentary and often times aggressive or cynical language. This changed after the socialist regime gained dominance over the region.

Despite the fact that SDKŠ is not a political theatre and usually does not address such issues, politics is part of human life and the Ukraine crisis has affected many people, even actors, according to her.

“Since people live with politics it will somehow appear in that performance,” Gabčíková said. “It is part of life and everyone comments on it, especially on issues which affect them.”

Top stories

Foreign organisations protest against police brutality

THE SLOVAK government has not paid much attention to the investigation into the June 19, 2013 police raid in Roma settlement Budulovská in Moldava nad Bodvou. Instead, the government is commenting on events before…

Summer holidays for pupils start

MOST pupils at primary and secondary schools received their year-end school reports on June 30. 

Igor Matovič (l) and Daniel Lipšic (r)

OĽaNO and NOVA join forces before the general elections

THE ORDINARY People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) and NOVA movement will run jointly in the general election in March 2016, their leaders Igor Matovič and Daniel Lipšic, respectively, told the press on June…

Finance Minister Peter Kažimír (r), Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák (middle) and Justice Minister Tomáš Borec

Government continues to combat tax evasion

THE ROBERT Fico government is preparing an additional 30 measures by which it wants to combat tax avoidance and tax evasion in Slovakia. It wants, for example, to use cover companies to uncover criminal deeds, names…

The festival was not your standard puppet theatre.

Source: Henrich Mišovič