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Puppetry Impresario: Popularization of Czech Historical Educational Enlightened Artistic Efforts

Aktualizováno: zář 15

Poetic dreaming and popularizing of (gesamtkunstwerk) czech puppetry and the legacy of Bohumil Schweigstill's enlightened artistic efforts.

In addition to the aesthetic-historical value, also mentioned in UNESCO, I appreciate the influence of puppetry on the Czech national revival during the 19th century and the subsequent pedagogical intention with the slogan "educate not marionettes, but by (über-)marionettes".


The term über-marionette comes from the essay On the art of theater: The actor and the über-marionette (1911) by Edward Gordon Craig and states that the actor - the premise of the existence of theater - sometimes appears as an element that makes it impossible to create a good theater because it defies the stylization that the director, artist or theorist dreams. Therefore, some theatergoers would rather see a puppet or mechanism on the stage instead, which would stylize - without hindrance - the image of a person as they wished (the so-called Gesamtkunstwerk or literally "total artwork", "total work of art", "ideal work of art", "universal artwork" and "synthesis of the arts").


Therefore, it is no coincidence that puppet theater, which until then had been more entertaining by more popular audiences, began to enjoy great popularity in the circles of European intelligence around 1900. In the Czech environment, these theses led to the creation of the puppet cult, and most aptly expressed this in 1907 by the Czech decadent Jiří Karásek from Lvovice in his preface to the puppet symbolist play „Dream of the Realm of Beauty“: "A fairy tale would not perish in the atmosphere of puppets as it dies when it is played by craft actors, real people, spoiling by sobriety of their appearance - despite all make-up and disguise - the slim fictionality of a poetic dream”.


My private collection (www.loutkoherna.cz) currently contains 22 small family puppet theaters and more than 220 historical marionettes - 13 to 20 cm high - from 1870 to 2021.



During the Covid restrictions in 2020, we also began filming Czech plays, from cabarets for adults to fairy tales from puppet plays, magazines and books by Bohumil Schweigstill, with period props and techniques from the early 20th century.


Very first puppetry training during Covid restrictions in 2020


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