Established in 1958 the KAUNAS PUPPET THEATRE registers in its chronicle more than 180 puppet performances, a great number of tours to foreign countries, such as Hungary, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Former Soviet Republics and remote countries of Latin America and festivals in many of them. Following the idea, generated by the founders of the Theatre, spouses Stasys Ratkevicius and Valerija Ratkeviciene, that everything what is being done at the theatre, should belong to the little ones, the theatre of today alongside with traditional classical puppet performances should be searching for new and engaging ways of association with little spectators who, through displayed kindness and beauty, would experience the utmost satisfaction and impact on their consciousness and feelings. Based on this point of view, new traditions of new theatrical arrangements during the last decade were generated in the Theatre.
Advertisements of the Theatre today offer to the little spectators twenty puppet performances. These are the most exciting dramatizations of Lithuanian as well as the world – wide known fairy tales – original dramaturgy – for the children. Every season more than 45 thousand spectators visit the Theatre; over 300 puppet plays have been performed; 4–5 new plays are usually staged. The theatre can boast of two halls for spectators – 226 and 50 seats each.
Spectators can visit the Kaunas Puppet Theatre Museum attached to the main part of the building under the same roof.
Director Sigitas Klibavicius
LET THE PUPPETS AND CHILDREN SMILE TOGETHER!
An annual festival reminds the Kaunas inhabitants that the season at the Theatre as well as the academic year is over. The actors and actresses of the Lithuanian Puppet Theatre as well as guests from foreign countries arrange puppet performances, concerts, exhibitions and other events, including the PUPPET and MASKS PARADE in the central street of the city, the latter becoming the place of a joyful festival of smiles and the landmark of the beginning of a careless summer holiday.
Traditional noncommercial Puppet Theatres Festival is organizing since 1991. From 2001 partners of the Festival became world association of puppetry UNIMA national centre in Lithuania. This festival invites professional troupes from Lithuania and abroad, the best Lithuanian children puppet theatres groups take part in festival also.
The Festival gives possibility to see and discus new performances, the workshops and creative laboratories is organized also. The Festival evening club, photo exhibition, children’s design exhibition, parade of puppets and masks, puppets are included in the Festival schedule.
In 2008 XVIII INTERNATIONAL PUPPET THEATRE FESTIVAL LET PUPPETS AND CHILDREN SMILE TOGETHER was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of our theatreand Kaunas city 600th anniversary.
Our theater takes part in the project FLYING FESTIVAL 2009-2011. The project’s aim is to seek the answers to a number of questions : what does the modern theatre in Europe say about family and child; how does the artistic vision correspond to the everday life experience of the audience; and last but not least, what role plays or may the theatre play in moulding the modern family model. The core of the project is staging theatrical performances and establishing the international theatrical exchange in order to provide the vast theatrical picture of today’s family and child. In the project also participate: The Baj Pomorski Theatre from Toruń (Poland), Stare Divadlo Nitra (Slovakia), Divadlo Loutek Ostrava (the Czech Republic), and a partner to this undertaking is the Academic State Puppet Theatre (Ukraine). In June, 2011 the next edition of the festival ‘Let Puppets and Children smile togeher’ will take place, where all theatres taking part in project FLYING FESTIVALl will present themselves in Kaunas.
TO THE FAIRYLAND WITH A PHOTO CAMERA
At the end of August each year a new festival opens a new season. The festival converts the Theatre as well as its approaches into the FAIRY TALE TOWN that is actually built using the parts of the désor of the performances and other articles of the kind. The characters of the performances invite all the children and their parents to take photo of themselves together with the beloved characters of the fairy tales and the plays to keep a long memory of the event. DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE YOUR PHOTO CAMERAS!
AT THE MUSEUM OF PUPPETS
A well-known character (actress Elena Zekiene), resides at the MUSEUM OF THE KAUNAS PUPPET THEATRE. She arranges an hour’s performances there and also instructs children and their parents how to improvise the scenes seen in the performances at home using the puppets of their own production.
Tel.: +3706 86 82837; email.: email@example.com
A Project of European Commission Culture program
CONTEMPORARY PUPPET MUSEUM BREAKS THE BORDERS OF CULTURES
Kaunas State Puppet Theatre is a participant of the project “Contemporary Puppet Museum Breaks the Borders of Cultures” funded by the European Union. The role of the organizer of the project was taken by Estonia State Puppet Theatre, and in a one-year-long project terminating in September, 2010, Latvian State Puppet theatre is also a partner of the project. The idea of the project is to renew and strengthen the traditional cultural relationships among the three Baltic countries.
The partners of the Project
The focus of the Project is laid upon puppet museums which are usually manifested as a less visible activity of the theatre. The Project strives to boost the activity of the theatre puppet museums by holding public expositions and presenting them at the international level. Thus not only the genre of the puppet theatre would be popularized but also spread and distribution of national culture would be performed.
In the new building of Tallinn Puppet art centre, three outside-located stands will be dedicated to an uncommon exhibition; episodes of the best former performances will be reborn there. Kaunas State Puppet Theatre selected the legendary staging of “Eglė Žalčių karalienė” (Eglė, the Queen of Grass-snakes, a well-known Lithuanian fairy tale) which was created more than forty years ago and made Lithuanian puppeteers famous far beyond the national borders (see photos).
During the 2nd festival of Baltic and Belarusian puppet theatres in Riga in 1968, the representatives of Kaunas received all the main awards, namely, for the best director (Stasys Ratkevičius), stage artist (Vitalijus Mazūras) and actor/actress (Regina Čeponienė) awards; the performance also received the award for the best national staging.
The puppets and decorations were made of natural materials – real wood, straw, linen fiber and rough canvas. The figures of the puppets contained details of folk architecture, and if a closer look was taken into the faces of the puppets which might have seemed monotonous, a part of a stylized spinning wheel could have been spotted. The metal encircling the eyes of Eglė and her children manifested the presence of some mystical relationship with grass-snakes. The performance managed to reveal the subtle and tragic fate of Eglė which was also dwelling in the persuasive music by the prominent composer Eduardas Balsys.
Many years later, the EU-supported project “Contemporary Puppet Museum Breaks the Borders of Cultures” provided an opportunity for a rebirth of the exceptional staging by Kaunas puppeteers. Presently, the preparatory work is taking place in the manufacture department, and the exposition from Lithuania will reach Estonia in May (see photos).
This project is targeted not only at the broad society but also at theatre specialists who are provided with an opportunity to exchange experience with foreign colleagues. This is the first project concentrating upon the “invisible” professionals of the theatre, the technical personnel who are usually left aside in other projects. Since last spring, the constructors, properties specialists, tailors and seamstresses, wood, metal and plastic masters as well as other technical staff of the puppet theatres of the three Baltic countries will be provided with an opportunity to share their knowledge and observe the processes taking place in other countries and to apply this experience in their future work (see photos from a tour in Czech puppet theatres and museums).
The visit of the project partners to France was extremely memorable. In September 2009, a joint delegation of the puppeteers from the Baltic countries attended the famous township of Charleville-Mézières. Not only the International marionette institute is established there, but it is also the worldwide office of the International puppeteer association, UNIMA celebrating its 60th anniversary (see photos).
The visit coincided with the famous Festival of Charleville whose program covering two weeks consisted of performances by more than 300 puppet theatres, actor groups and independent performers. Every day, more than fifty performances and thematic activities were taking place in various environments. The best performances of the festival were based on the synthesis of several arts, namely, music, puppets and actor movements.
A major part of performers were French, and their closest neighbours, Belgians, Italians and Spaniards were also strongly represented (see photos).
For two weeks, Charleville-Mézières was a victim of a bizarre onslaught. The new director of the festival, Ms. Anne Françoise Cabanis had posted the topic “A Puppet in the art Centre”, which showed huge ambitions of the event which seem to be fulfilled (L’Humanité).
130 families of local residents hosted puppeteers from 25 foreign countries, and 73,000 tickets were sold. The puppets were no more lonely or isolated. On the stage, they cohered with the arts of plasticity, pantomime and circus, which is lovely (Libération).
Puppets don’t care about nationality or language. They possess enormous arsenal of expression for their ideas and amusement (La vie).
(More information is available at www.festival-marionnette.com ).
The initiator of the project – Tallinn State Puppet Theatre invited all the partners at the beginning of March to a very important event – the opening of a new Educational center. A great number of educational activities will take place in the Center situated in a huge house in the centre of the city. A spacious modern Puppet museum and a special library of literature have already been housed there (see photos).
The meeting of the project partners took place in Riga on the 2nd of May. Participating theatre people have talked over the future actions, participated at the presentation of Latvian exposition, ran through the funds at Puppet Museum and watched the newest premiere of Latvian Puppet Theatre.
On the 18th of May Kaunas State Puppet Theatre was celebrating its 52nd anniversary. That day the exposition created in the frames of EU project “Contemporary Museum Brakes the Borders of Cultures” was presented for the quests, friend and colleagues gathered at theatre lobby. The composition mentioned will leave soon for Estonia where it will be presented together with the works of Riga and Tallinn theatres during the opening of Tallinn Treff festival. This unique exposition is created after the outstandin performance “Eglė the Queen of the Grass Snakes” which has already become the symbol of the theatre. It will stay on the facade of Tallinn Puppet Education Centre to embellish the scenery and attract people. The head of the theatre Sigitas Klibavičius and the coordinator of the project, theatre critic Margarita Pilkaitė presented the project and the head of the museum Elena Žekienė told about the work of this institution. The guests also met the actors who were participating in this classical performance as well as saw original puppets.