The Czech Republic has a unique relationship with the theater -the country is well known for its famous puppetry, in addition to classical and contemporary Czech theater and film (for example, the Karlovy Film Festival is a hugely famous international film festival that draws in celebrities and international audiences from all over the world). But way before I moved to the Czech Republic, and quit acting, I studied and lived in New York City and I remember learning in a theater history class that Marionette theater was exceptionally famous in the Czech Republic (it first became a popular form of entertainment during the Thirty Years’ War). Additionally, somewhere along the line of my acting and film studies, I discovered and subsequently became a huge fan (kind of obsessed) with the work of Jan Švankmajer -a surrealist filmmaker who uses many different types of media to express his stories. His works are beautiful, dark, psychological, intricate, weird and fascinating. He’s really well known for his stop-motion film style.
Once I moved to the Czech Republic and started learning about the artistic history in the Czech Republic, I also discoveredJosef Skupa who created and performed this comedy that became really famous called Spejbl a Hurvínek. Spejbl was like this old school, slower and old-ish teacher/father and his son Hurvínek -who had this famous high-pitched voice, who observe life and process life through the eyes of a father and son.
Anyway, today the class and I got to watch two Czech actresses put on their own unique puppet theater. The story followed an alien creature that lived in a land (the land is the whimsical inflatable blown-up spotted blue blob with tentacles in the photo above), and was lost and looking for its mom (maminka) and went on this wild adventure with its different alien/sea creature friends. Both of the actresses were super engaging, had these wonderful voice changes and interactions with the kids where the characters would steal a child’s shoe or sit on their head and play with their leg, and they hand built all of the puppets and the inflatable land that expanded and had all of these arms that could maneuver. The whole set and cast of characters even fit into their little backpacks, they had their own travelling theater duo! It was very interesting and amazing to watch!