February 8, 2006
Czech Black Theater and Czech Puppetry
When I did a little research on Divadlo za branou, I discovered that it was known also for its productions of Czech Black Theater, which is nomenclature for a type of puppet theater: "This form of theater can be used with many styles of puppets, although it is most commonly used with tabletop puppets. The puppeteer dresses from head to toe in black velvet. There are black velvet curtains behind them and on both sides. A sharply focused curtain of light shoots across the playing area. It is generated by carefully shuttered lamps on Stage Right, Stage Left and a bank of instruments above. When the puppet is placed in the light they can be seen clearly as if under normal stage lighting but the puppeteer becomes invisible" (from "Czech Black," part of a website on Other Hand Productions, a company of puppeteers that stages productions and conducts workshops.)
As it turns out, there is rich tradition of puppetry in the Czech lands. One of the posters in the Winters Collection advertises an exhibit on the theater of Josef Skupa, recognized as a pioneer in the theater and design of modern puppetry. The theater where Skupa staged productions of puppetry was the Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre, which he founded.
Also worthwhile noting: Czech Theater Magazine has an entire issue (no. 13, 1997) on theatrical puppetry in the Czech lands. This issue is out of print, so it's especially generous of the publication to make it available in its entirety (with wonderful pictures) and free of charge!
Posted by at February 8, 2006 10:49 AM