What is the current contribution of the puppet theatre to society-wide debate? And what should it or could it be?

As part of the International Meeting of Students Gaudeamus Theatrum, Drak Theatre is organising its third public conference. While the previous two were devoted to the theatre for specific audiences (theatre for adolescents and theatre for the early years), this year we will reflect together on the relationship of contemporary puppet theatre to current and long-term political issues. Does the Czech puppet theatre scene enter any social or political discussion through its work? What are examples of socially engaged puppetry work? And does their quantity and importance correspond to the position that puppetry would like to have in Czech culture and society? Is the puppet theatre a suitable genre at all for the articulation of serious social topics?

Participation in the conference is free of charge. If you are interested in attending, please register (due to limited capacity) using this link no later than by 28 February 2023.


9 March 2023

9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Drak Theatre, Hradec Králové



9.30 a.m. Registration, opening remarks
9.45 a.m. – 11.00 a.m. Presentation of guests, contributions, examples of good practice
11.00 a.m. – 11.15 a.m. Pause
11.15 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. Moderated discussion

Moderated by: Barbora Pokorná


Presentation of guests, contributions, examples of good practice

  • Pavla Dombrovská – Provoking Theatre Project

The Provoking Theatre Project is the outcome of the long-term activities of the Líšeň Theatre – a line of appellative productions presented together with discussions (with witnesses, journalists and experts on a given topic). The project is an expression of our human attitudes, it wants to inspire and stimulate activity leading toward freedom. It includes the plays Putin is Skiing (a play about the birth of a killer) based on texts by murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya about Putin’s rise to power, Confession of a Jailor – a theatrical coming to terms with a totalitarian past inspired by the fate of people in the period of the Stalinist terror in 1950s, and Blood Hygiene on the methods of “refining the human race” based on texts from the time of the Holocaust. The project also includes the production of Paramisa (Cunning Stupid Roma), which was created and is staged in cooperation with Romani artists. We are currently implementing the project with the support of EEA funds 2014-2021

Pavla Dombrovská is a graduate of Theatre Science at the Masaryk University’s Faculty of Arts in Brno. She gained practical theatrical experience, both in acting and directing, in Studio Dům (at the Goose on a String Theatre) under the direction of director Eva Tálská. In 1998, she founded the Líšeň Theatre with her husband Luděk Vémola. Here she works as an author of plays, scriptwriter, director, actress and musician. The theatre experiments with various theatrical forms, using puppets, masks and objects, and working with movement and sound stylisation. She plays and organises workshops for adults and children throughout the country and at international festivals. In the theatre’s dramaturgy, there is an important line focused on human rights and political themes, as well as long-term cooperation with Romani dancers and musicians. In the site of its headquarters, Brno-Líšeň, the theatre workers live, create and participate in the community development of the municipality. www.divadlolisen.cz


Ariel Doron – Puppet theatre as a social experiment

One of the lecturers of this year’s International Meeting of Students of Art Colleges Gaudeamus Theatrum, Ariel Doron, is a foreign guest of the conference. In his theatrical work, he uses very little text and lots of playfulness, often in order to handle hard social and political themes, such as, for example, institutionalised violence, and creates interactive performances which challenge the role of the viewers.

Ariel Doron is an Israeli puppeteer, director, performer and lecturer. He studied film studies at university in Tel Aviv, studied puppet courses at the School of Visual Theater in Jerusalem, The Train Theatre Greenhouse Project, the Puppetry School Holon and Tel Aviv, and attended several courses at the Institute International de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres. He currently lives in Germany and cooperates, for example, with Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin, Theater Junge Generation Dresden, Schauburg Theater München, Staatsschausspiel Dresden, FITZ! Figurentheater Zentrum Stuttgart, Hanut 31 Gallery-Theater Tel Aviv and others. His solo productions, such as ‘Boxed’, ‘Pinhas’ and ‘Plastic Heroes’, have been presented in more than 35 countries around the world, winning several awards for the best puppet/object animation, the best production and audience awards.


Tomáš Jarkovský – Social/political topics in the theatre for children and adolescents

In what manner can social topics be approached in the theatre for children and adolescents? Does politics belong in children’s theatre? What themes can be called political? Reflections based on the experience gained from the previous work with a special emphasis on the production of R.U.R. 2.0 (Drak Theatre), Emil, or About Hácha (D21), How the Roosters Coloured the World (Minor) and Everyone is Right (?) (Alfa Theatre).

Tomáš Jarkovský graduated from DAMU’s Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre. At present, he is studying for his doctorate in the same department, and his research is focused on work for young, adolescent audiences. He works as a dramatist and author of theatre scripts. Together with director Jakub Vašíček, he has collaborated with a number of Czech theatres for children and youth (Alfa Theatre, Minor, Naive Theatre, Malé divadlo and especially his home stage, Drak Theatre). He has been the Director of Drak Theatre since January 2020.


Tomáš Procházka – Current topics and a social/critical approach in the work of the Handa Gote ensemble, non-political politics and the dramaturgy of “Small (Personal) Histories” in the Alfred in the Courtyard Theatre

How does the Handa Gote ensemble enter into social or political discussion through its work? What topics resonate with the youngest theatre generation? And how is this all reflected in the dramaturgy of Prague’s independent Alfred in the Courtyard Theatre?

Tomáš Procházka is a puppeteer, animator of puppet films, actor, director, musician and sound experimenter. He studied acting in the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre in DAMU. He has worked in the Derevo and Buchty and loutky theatre troupes. He has been a member of the art group Handa Gote since 2005. He has worked as a director, for example, in Lampion Theatre, Alfa Theatre and Ponec Theatre and in the ensembles Buchty a loutky, VerTeDance, etc. He is currently a lecturer at DAMU’s Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre and the Artistic Director of the Alfred in the Courtyard Theatre.


Pavel Štourač – The work of Continuo Theatre

The repertory productions of Sacrifice, Neighbours, Noon and the site-specific projects of Scars in Stone, Forgotten in Fields or In the Belly of the Whale were always based on specific historical events or were inspired by the history of the place in which they took place in the case of site-specific projects. They were all preceded by extensive research and cooperation with experts across different disciplines. Pavel Štourač will present a creative path from specific historical events and theoretical research to the resulting shape of a theatre performance.

Pavel Štouračis a theatre director, stage designer and educator, and the Artistic Director of Continuo Theater. He graduated in 1993 from the Theatre Faculty of DAMU’s Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where he studied Set Design under the guidance of Prof. Albert Pražák, Original Theatre with prof. Ivan Vyskočil and Theatrical Anthropology under the direction of Dr Jana Pilátová. In 2012 he completed his doctoral studies at DAMU’s Department of Theory and Practice in Prague. In 1992, he and his wife Helena founded the independent theatre group Continuo Theatre. He is the author and director of more than 50 theatrical productions and over 25 site-specific projects. His theatrical activity as a director is quite wide. From puppet theatre productions, physical and dance theatre, street theatre and new circus projects to site-specific theatre projects in non-theatre spaces such as old factories, abandoned industrial buildings, historical buildings, open landscapes or trains. Since 2010 he has been a member of the teaching staff of Accademia Teatro Dimitri in Verscio, Switzerland, where he has been teaching as part of the physical theatre master’s program and since 2021 he has been head of the Department of Figurative Theatre.



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