The Registered Association of Czech and Slovak Puppeteers presents: Kašpárek and Zbojník

Did you know that Czechoslovak puppetry is on the UNESCO World Heritage List? It’s true! Thus, Czech and Slovak puppeteers, as well as their loyal audiences, have earned worldwide recognition, which culminated the long-standing efforts of generations of our predecessors.

Contemporary Czech and Slovak puppeteers have now gathered to join all their forces, all their skills and the best of their traditions to celebrate this important success together. And how else to celebrate the Czechoslovak puppet tradition than with the première of a brand new, yet completely traditional and mainly perfectly Czechoslovak puppet play, or piece? Thus, we searched the theatre storerooms, archives and museums on both sides of the Morava River, organised public collections and now we present the result of all this effort to you.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the registered association of Czech and Slovak puppeteers presents a traditional Czechoslovak puppet play: Kašpárek and Zbojník! The 30th anniversary of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia offers a unique opportunity to theatrically reflect on an extraordinary phenomenon, which is the unique closeness of two nations, which joined their historical development for 75 years and which is probably unprecedented in the world. But how do we perceive it today? And how is it perceived in both countries by children, for whom coexistence in a joined country is now only a chapter in the history books? We want to examine these questions through a Czech/Slovak production that, on the layout of an original story, looks at the various forms of the current relationship between Czechs and Slovaks. Its political framework has disappeared, the joint television programs are also gone, so what remains to link them? Just a few YouTubers that are popular here and there? It seems that there is actually more…

Foto: Juraj Starovecký

In the media:

“The production confirms that well-crafted theatre can turn out well, even if it does not actually come up with anything ground-breaking or fundamental. (…) It offers such many tiny ideas and jokes, whether “kindly ironically national” or purely puppetry, that they reliably make for an honest hour of excellent Czechoslovak entertainment.” Vladimír Mikulka, 26.6.2023, “The Bratislava Puppet Theatre and the Drak Theatre have realized a joint project that entails a lot of demanding production work. They responded to the topic with sincerity, humour and opinion. And this is more beneficial and much more stimulating for thinking about our identity than official gala programmes.” Lenka Dzadíková, LOUTKÁŘ 1-2023

“The supremely self-ironic production is not at all outdated, but on the contrary boldly layers the still resonant Czech-Slovak clichés, going beyond the edge of correctness with courage. For me, the puppet highlight of the festival so far.” Kateřina Kykalová, 29 June 2023,, Ritual Regions (No. 5)

THE WALL – Growing up behind the Iron Curtain

The Wall is an extraordinarily unique and world acclaimed book, which mediates both to children and adults the years of 1948-1989, the age of communism and socialism, where many people lived, worked and dreamed behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. Autobiographical story of the artist, illustrator and author Petr Sís tells a story of music and painting passion, of ideologies burden of history and the need for freedom. “The book by Petr Sís is compulsory reading for children (and their parents) who believe that freedom is simply for granted.” Václav Havel “It is my testimony as well as a warning what could happen again. People still keep building walls, be it in Isralel, Mexican border or Ústí nad Labem.” Petr Sís The theatre production based on the book The Wall is musical and visual grotesque dealing with an utterly non-grotesque past, told from the perspective of a boy who loves colours, but not grey shades, adores music but not fearful silence, believes in dreams and is full of hope.  Using visual arts, music, animation, comics, puppetry and playful performing, the makers of the show try to mediate the experience of children’s perception They also want to provide the youngest generation with a closer understanding of the uneasy totalitarian times and to initiate further discussion with teachers and parents regarding issues of oppression and freedom. The autumn of 2019 marks the 30-year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Our production wants to contribute to its intergenerational understanding and to highlight such a seminal milestone of Czech history. The performance focuses on the interactivity between acting and animation. Quotes from reviews: “Perhaps it was the intention of the authors Miřenka Čechová and Dominika Špalková, that there was less imagination and theatrical magic, so that the production tailored to the Drak Studio would clearly tell children from 9 years and up where words are not enough. Thus, paradoxically, a theatrical illustration was created of what are already distinctive comics.”  Petr Mareček, MF DNES, 2.10.2019 Awards: The production was awarded a “Hradecká múza 2019,” annual award given by the city of Hradec Králové for a significant achievement in the cultural field.

White Fang

The far north is a hostile place during the rough times of the gold rush, where White Fang, a cross-breed of dog and wolf puppy, is growing. Characterised by wildness and effervescence, White Fang cannot easily fit in with a pack of wolves or even among people; he is neither accepted, nor does he accept easily. As he grows up, he encounters violence and hatred as well as kindness and even love. What will eventually be imprinted in his soul? Quotes from reviews:

“In the role of White Fang, Milan Hajn gives an absolutely exceptional and complex performance, which combines stage work with modern recording techniques (the use of live cinema) as well as very personal acting in a first-person narrative. His concentrated acting vividly depicts the gradual domestication of a wild animal, without it seeming inappropriate or even embarrassing to the audience. Hajn is absolutely dominant and unmistakeable in this production. Such a role is quite unique in the sphere of puppet/alternative theatre based on interplay and that makes his performance all the more valuable.”

2019 Thálie Awards, commentary of the expert committee on the nominations

 “They move across the stage as Indians, gold diggers, a pack of wolves, a dog sled team. And, from the big picture to the big details they shoot animal and human lairs, cages, fierce dogfights and hunts, escapes, maws, muzzles, lightning in their eyes, the landscape around the river in a sea of snow… The effect is perfect. The camera’s magic aspires to the realm of poetry.”  P.J. Kříž,  White Fang immortalised through new techniques, 6.3.2018  Právo p. 11, Northeast Bohemia)  “Because director Jakub Vašíček works with that most of all, with images, with atmosphere – and he works with it wonderfully, sensitively and carefully. Above all, the intensity and authenticity of the situations make the production of White Fang a powerful experience for audiences young and old.” Nikola Škvarová, Child: White Fang, 19.4.2018 Divědové na blogu “An abbreviated version of the world-famous novel. The production abounds with amusing moments, such as loot splitting among pack members, dog fights in wooden rink, etc. Yet, the production also features “chilling” scenes, so typical of the book. The production combines theatre and created live film, which is also projected live. This concept suitably fits the nature of performance and enables the spectator to understand the story from the perspective of the main animal character. Entertaining, yet respecting the value of the original book, the production is suitable also for younger audiences. All male cast present a captivating show with their playing and performing. The strong story is rendered originally, enabling the audiences to experience being in the wolf’s skin.” Antonie Holubová, 5. 4. 2018, „White Fang is an adorable performance. I think it contains the most clever use of camera on stage I have ever seen. Not only that. The whole concept is precise, well thought over, actors are great. The protagonist of main character is unbelievable.“ Mojca Redjko, Slovene National Theatre Maribor Awards and Acknowledgements ERIK Award for the “Best Puppet Performance of the Season” Theatre Newpaper’s Award in category „The Best Direction of The Season“ in the field of Alternative and Puppet theatre for director Jakub Vašíček Skupa‘s Pilsner Awards for Tomáš Jarkovský, Jakub Vašíček and Antonín Šilar for the concept of the performance Thalie Award for the main protagonist Milan Hajn in the field of Alternative and Puppet Theatre

Georges Méliès’ Last Trick

Divadlo Drak’s production is inspired by the remarkable life and work of the cinematic pioneer Georges Méliès. It takes us to the enticing setting of magicians, tricks and magic. The magic tricks that Méliés was the first to use in a film medium, in an unbelievably imaginative manner we might add, still have their artistic poetry today. And, above all, thera are many who have followed in his footsteps. Even death comes up short in Méliès’ world full of boundless imagination, since celluloid, illusion and fantasy are weapons that seem to be able to defeat even the Grim Reaper himself… Or can they? We will find out when the story of the fascinating life of the greatest film magician of all time ends. Awards: Theatre Newpaper’s Award for Dušan Hřebíček in category „The Best Actor of The Season“ and for Jiří Havelka and Marek Zákostelecký in category „Puppet Theatre“– Georges Meliés’s Last Trick ERIK Award for the “Best Puppet Performance of the Season” – Georges Meliés’s Last Trick Festival Spotkanie Toruń, Grand Prix in categories „The Best Actor, Director and Music“ – Georges Meliés’s Last Trick


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