Puppet Friendly City
The Plzeň region – the puppet theatre tradition and the present day
Plzeň (Pilsen), the fourth biggest city of the Czech Republic is the capital of West Bohemia and the Plzeň region. It lies in the junction of four rivers. It is worldwide famous for its three commodities: low fermented Pilsner Urquell beer, Škoda works engineering products, whose logo is a winged arrow and – puppets, led by Spejbl and Hurvínek!
The classic puppets, often decades old, but even the unique art resources and modern audiovisual technologies are being used in the present professional and amateur Plzeň puppet theatre conception. It is based on a strong tradition and at the same time it looks for a contemporary theatrical expression.
This tradition is personified mainly by the folk puppet master Karel Novák, the “father” of the most famous Czech puppets Spejbl and Hurvínek, Josef Skupa, and his disciple, later worldwide famous cartoon movie maker Jiří Trnka, and the renowned Nosek carver family. They all met on the semi-professional Puppet theatre Ferial camp stage, which was constantly at the Czech pre-war puppet theatre top during the 20th and the beginning of the 30th of the 20th century. Even the first Czech professional puppet theatre led by J. Skupa, (which was born in 1930), originates from this stage. Subsequently, the puppet theatre moved to Prague in 1945 and in the next years to come it became worldwide famous.
ALFA theatre professional puppet theatre origins come from 1966. In its production, it prefers the comedy genre and mainly it emphasis the role of the puppet being used in all possible synthetic combinations. Its production is highly appreciated both at home and in foreign countries. The theatre has been the organizer of the renowned international Skupova Plzeň festival since 1967, whose crucial program content is made up of Czech puppet theatres competition show. There has already been 32nd of this competition.
Out of roughly three tens of amateur puppet theatres, being set up mainly by the Sokol sport and culture organization within the interwar period, two has survived until the present: Špalíček and V Boudě, where the more traditional puppet theatre conception with the emphasis on the puppet master control finds its space. The more modern puppet styles and the authorial approach are being preferred at Divadlo Střípek and Ramus Company, representing the Czech amateur puppet theatre mastery for a long time.
The visitor gets the basic information on the history and present Pilsen region puppet theatre at the Puppet Museum located in the renaissance building in the Republic square 23. It is an exhibit itself. A modern three-floor interactive exposition is arranged in here, having the old puppets from the puppeteer family resources and puppet theatre ferial camps as well as the Alfa theatre present day puppets or amateur ensembles.