The One Flew Over the Puppeteer´s Nest is a specialized review of puppet theatres, open to the broad spectrum of theatre groups, thus not only statutory theatres, but also independent groups and amateur companies. The aim of the organizers, particularly the Czech centre of the non-governmental international organization of puppeteers UNIMA, is to present the puppet theatre to the broad public as an integral part of theatre and festival activities and to convince the audience of the various age categories about the possibilities of expression in this theatrical genre. In comparison with the concept of other puppet festivals, this mutual confrontation is quite a unique phenomenon, highly appraised particularly in the foreign professional press.
Czech puppetry is unique in the way it enables a comparison of amateur and professional ensembles by the same measures. This comparison is made possible by “Přelet” (Flew) for which the best prouctions of the past season are being selected.The show was held for the first time in 1991 and its major organizer and author of the title was Luděk Richter. The “Flew” was performed at the Žižkov theatre, in the theatre “Na Zábradlí”, at the theatre Minor, the theatre at Dlouhá, the theatre of mimes Alfred in the Court, the Actors Studio on Letná, and in the Theatre of Comedy. Every year about a dozen companies participate, of which roughly a third come from statutory theatres, a third from independent groups and the rest from a selection of amateur ensembles.
The One Flew Over the Puppeteer´s Nest is held by the Czech centre of UNIMA and the association for the publication of the magazine “Loutkář” (Puppeteer) in collaboration with the City of Prague and with the financial aid of the Ministry of Culture of the CR.
The committee of the UNIMA centre headed by Nina Maliková decides on the selection of performances on the basis of their appraisal at various festivals or shows during the given season, as well as on the basis of recommendations by puppet experts of renown.
Producer of the shows The One Flew Over the Puppeteer´s Nest is Klára Konopásková, E-mail: email@example.com.
In 1991, the puppetry showcase One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest was created on the initiative of the then Chairman of the Czech centre of UNIMA. His objective was not only to activate the members of the Czech centre of this international puppetry organisation UNIMA, which has reawakened to life, but also give the public an opportunity to get to know about modern Czech puppet theatre. The first year of the review, which took place in still very modest conditions, was a success. Although over the next 15 years, many personalities alternated in the management and production of One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest, the fact remains that this confrontation of the works of professional and amateur puppeteers has won a distinguished place among the theatrical festivals.
There is a brief view of the history of this unique puppetry festival in the Czech Republic.
The following extract is from the article published on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the festival in 2005. The whole text is available in Czech only in the magazine Loutkar 5/2005
Luděk Richter: The first five
The author was the chief organiser and dramatist of the festival for five years (1991 – 1995).
“…It is essential to enunciate that the first half of the 90s, which is under discussion here, caught the statutory (in the sense of statutory professional theatres) such as Drak or Naivní divadlo more or less at the end of their greatest glory, if not after the zenith, and beside the versatile Alfa Theatre of Plzeň, no other permanent group did press at the free peak… At first glance, the most significant characteristic feature of the first half of the 90s is on the contrary the monumental quantitative and qualitative rise of independent groups, which in many cases surpassed statutory theatres in terms of courage in drama theory selection and production, creativeness in production procedures, expansion of possibilities for design sharing in set expression and general dynamism, energy, with which they perform, artistic impetuous and inventiveness.
Amateur ensembles, whose advantage has always been and is that they are not encumbered by operating duties, still open similar approaches in front of independent groups because they play theatre mainly because they want to and in such a way as to enjoy themselves as well as express their relationship to the world. Their advantage is also that the financial, material and technical resources at their disposal are limited to such an extent that they have no choice but to utilise fantasy and creativeness… Whatever the reasons, it is true that the stimuli that the amateurs brought to One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest ranked among the strongest… The amateurs win in courage pertaining to genre, variability of target groups, search for effective resources, but surprisingly many a time also in the wholeness of the production handling and efficacy of its result…”
Nina Malíková : Ten years with One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest
Nina Malíková was involved in the preparation and form of the next ten years of this specialised national puppetry festival. One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest for all sorts of reasons alternated in many Prague localities and theatre chambers only to set anchor again in 2003 in the reconstructed premises of the Minor Theatre (Divadlo Minor) and the authoress discusses the individual years, their problems and inspiring performances. She also devotes extensive attention to the fact that from year 1997, the evaluation of the most inspiring and most interesting production, which arose in a particular year, is also embodied in the results of the survey. The winner of survey is awarded a floating prize, which is known as ERIK and is indirectly related to the renowned theatrical artist Dr. Erik Kolár.
We quote from the conclusion of the authoress in the article “…Perhaps, it seems to you that I have in my appraisal of One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest rather accentuated the creations of independent ensembles or amateurs because the arduous, post-revolution situation of the statutory theatres (regardless of whether this concerns their inner transformation or demands of the founders and the audience, which are not always in harmony with the artistic ambitions and possibilities of these ensembles) were also reflected in their much smaller professional offensive. I think that it is not so simple. The sometimes surprising discoveries of One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest (at the beginning “Studio dell´arte”, “Divadlo Continuo”, “Buchty a loutky”, later “DNO” and “Líšeň”) rather by their unfamiliarity and energetic charge as though overshadowed the ensembles for whom professionalism is assumed in all environments and from whom it is expected that they shall come up with surprises at all times and push the imaginary spiral of ideas ever higher. In recent years, after all beside the KALD students, there are just the young ensembles of statutory theatres that drew attention to themselves! In other words, the graduates of KALD DAMU that came here on their first engagements… The alternation of generations in the ensembles, and thus also the puppet theatre presentation style and its resources is for both professionals and amateurs clear even in the absence of the One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest festivals, and if we shall at any time in future divide Czech puppet theatre into these two fields at all, the issue is only who will be first to provoke the other to take off from the ground…”
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