International Puppeteers Unionn

Mezinárodní loutkařská unie

Union International de Marrionette


7th June 2019  (9:00 – 15:30)

The Stables of Nostic Palace, Ministry of Culture Czech Republic, Maltézské nám. 1, Prague 1).



The conference was divided into three blocks, focussing on the history, present-day activities and future of UNIMA. The first block was highlight the early days of UNIMA prior to WWII, the second block was recall the revival of the organization’s activities in 1957, and the third was present UNIMA’s outlook for the 21st century.

The conference was held in English.


9.00 AM- Welcome

9.10 AM – Opening speech: Karen Smith, Vice-President of UNIMA International

9.25 AM- Keynote: Michael Meschke (SE)

9.45 AM- Keynote: Denisa Kirschnerová (CZ)

10.00 AM- Block I.

The Beginnings of UNIMA from 1929 to the Mid-20th Century

Speakers: Edi Majaron (SLO), Alain Lecucq (FR), Nina Malíková (CZ)

Chair:  Lenka Šaldová

11.30 AM- Lunch

12.15 PM- Block II:

The Restoration of UNIMA after 1957

Speakers: Nina Monova (RU), Cariad Astles (UK), Cristina Graziol  (IT), Mascha Erbelding- (D)

Special Guest: Penny Francis (UK)

Chair: Kateřina Lešková Dolenská

1.45 PM- Cofee Break

2.00 PM- Block III.

The Development of UNIMA in the Previous Decades and its Visions for the 21st Century

Speakers:  Kida Takaki (J), Ida Hledíková (SK), John Bell (USA), Kristýna Täubelová (CZ)

Chair: Zuzana Vojtíšková

3.30 PM- Close of Conference


Cariad Astles, studied BA (Hons) Class: 1st, University of Exeter, MA (Performance and Culture), Goldsmiths College, University of London, PhD research Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, University of Exeter: Teacher, researcher, lecturer, course leader and course tutor. In present is teaching and research on puppetry performance, theory, directing, applied puppetry, writing for puppet theatre, object theatre (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK. Author of monographs, editions, essays, studies, articles, papers at conferences. Member of UNIMA Executive Committee, President of the Research Commission of UNIMA, the international puppetry association, 2016-20

John Thomas Bell, Ph.D. Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Theater History) in 1993. Pedagogue at University of Connecticut,  Boston College,  Harvard niversity,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology , Emerson College Department of Performing Arts. Author of books, performer, dramaturg. playwright, director, producer. Founding member of Great Small Works theater company (1996-present). Performer, Dramaturg or Assistant Director: major works of the Bread and Puppet Theater ( 1973-1985). He was awarded by Prix de la Recherche from the Institut International de la Marionette (France), for American Puppet Modernism, 2011, Jalal Sattari award (Iran) for “Shalako Puppets and Nineteenth-Century Ritual”, from American Puppet Modernism, 2011. New England Art Award for Best Performance or Spectacle in New England (for Honk! Parade), 2009. UNIMA-USA Citation for Excellence for Great Small Works, 2008. Puppeteers of America Jim Henson Award for Innovation in Puppetry for Great Small Works,  2005. Village Voice Obie Award Grant for Great Small Works,  1998. UNIMA-USA Citation for Excellence for Great Small Works, 1997.

Lucile Bodson is President of Mouffetard – Puppet Theater in Paris and Theater Festival in Val d’Oise. From 2003 to 2014, she directed the Puppetry International Institute (IIM) and the International Puppetry High School (ESNAM) in Charleville-Mézičres. Before in 1992, she created and directed the Puppet Theater in Paris, a production and specialized progamming structure, as well as the international Biennal of Puppetry Theatre and a festival intended for emergence, the open Scenes. Member of UNIMA Executive Committee. 

Mascha Erbelding, studied Dramaturgy, general and comparative literature studies and history at the Bavarian Theater Academy August Everding / LMU München, at the FU Berlin and at the Université Rennes II. Her diploma thesis “Don’t play with death. Function and Figure of death in 20th century puppet theater.” was published in 2006 . Since 2008 she working at the Puppet theater collection of Münchner Stadtmuseum. She is artistic and organizational director of the international puppet theater festival in Munich (existing since 1996), and co-director of the Festival “Kuckuck – Theaterfestival für Anfänge(r)” for children from 0-5. Since 2007 she is part of the editing staff of the puppet theater magazine „double”.

Cristina Grazioli, Associate Professor, University of Padua. Professor in History of Theatre (Bachelor); History of Stage Direction (Master- 2004-2016); History and Aesthetics of Lighting in the theatre (Master), Teaching Professor in History of Contemporary TheatreTeaching Professor in History and Aesthetics of Lighting in the TheatreEditeur L’Entretemps, Co-chief editor of “Puck. La marionnette et les autres arts”. Teaching Professor in History of Contemporary Theatre. Member of the scientific committee of Nuovo Teatro Made in Italy dal 1963, Leader of the University Project “Atlas Fortuny”. Tradition and innovation in the art of orchestrating light: sources of inspiration and influences in Mariano Fortuny’s work ”. Participant to the Project “Max Reinhardt. L’art et la technique à la conquête de l’espace” (Labex Arts-H2H – Laboratoire d’excellence des Arts et Médiations humaines), Director of the Archive research team “Herla”, Member of the Scientific Committee of the review «Moin Moin. Revista sobre o studio de Formas Animadas», (Brazil). Member of the Scientific committee of th Institut International de la Marionnette (Charleville Mézières – F), Member of the Scientific Committee of the “Nuovo Teatro Made in Italy” project, Member of the International Scientific Committee of the “Revue d’Histoire du théâtre”(France), Member of the International Scientific Committee of the Fondazione Artioli – Mantova Capitale Europea dello Spettacolo (2004-2015).

Ida Hledíková is a theatre critic and theatrologist. She is devoted to research into puppet theatre and translation of expert theatre literature (primarily from Polish) and participates in theatre, television and film festivals as a jurist. Since 1990 she has held various posts at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and is currently head of the Department of Puppetry (since 2015). She worked in Slovak Television in Bratislava (1999 – 2009) as manager of the STV 2 channel, analyst for original productions and manager of the PRIX DANUBE international children and youth television festival. She also collaborates with the Institut International de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézieres, France, and is involved in domestic and international research and educational projects. She is the author of the monograph Kočovníci, Komedianti, Bábkari (Nomads, Comedians and Puppeteers) about Central European and Slovak nomadic theatre of the 18th – 20th centuries, on the basis of which she created the script for the feature-length documentary Posledná maringotka  (The Last Caravan) (2008) and the monograph Snívajte s nami (Dream With Us), which deals with the 60-year history of the puppet theatre in Nitra. She is also the author of several television screenplays concerning the performing arts and is a co-founder of The Museum of Puppet Culture and Toys at Modrý Kameň Castle in Slovakia. For several decades she has been working for the international puppetry organization UNIMA and acted as a member of its international executive for three terms, during the course of which she was a member of the publication and communication commission and the European Commission, and President of the UNIMA Research Commission (2004 – 2016).

Denisa Kirschnerová has a degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the Charles University Faculty of Art. Since 1996, she has been the dramaturge for the S + H Theatre and has either authored or co-authored several plays for this theatre. She has also made various CDs and television programmes about Hurvínek and also written two books: Nechci do jiný cimr and Hurvínkovy narozeniny, the comics Šmankote!, and a publication about the S + H Theatre entitled Spejbl a Hurvínek … na nitkách osudu. She has been the director of the S + H Theatre since 2017.

Alain Lecucq, puppeteer, director, instructor. Started puppetry at London’s Little Angel Theatre in 1969 Founded La Citrouille Shadow Theatre in France with Annie Bizeau in 1972. Renovator of paper theatre technique in France dedicates his professional life to this technique since 1983. Founded Papierthéâtre Company in 1996; shares the direction of the company with Narguess MAJD since 2011. Founded the International Gatherings of Paper Theatre, a biennale festival dedicated to the technique, in 1998; shares the direction of the event with Narguess MAJD since 2011. Wrote articles on paper theatre for different revues and books such as the World Encyclopaedia of Puppetry Arts. Prepares a book on Paper Theatre, planned to be published by the International Institute of Puppetry in 2022. General Secretary of THEMAA – the French centre for UNIMA, 1996 – 2001, President of THEMAA, 2004 – 2009. Member of UNIMA since 1972, Secretary of Publication Commission of UNIMA, 1996 – 2000.

Kateřina Lešková Dolenská has a degree in theatre studies from the Charles University Faculty of Arts and a PhD in alternative and puppet theatre and its theory from DAMU. She is an assistant professor at the DAMU Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre specializing in the history of Czech and international puppet theatre. She publishes in various cultural publications and professional journals, is frequently a member of expert juries and committees, and occasionally lectures in Europe and the USA. She is a member of the Czech UNIMA Centre Committee. Since 2015, she is the chief editor of the Loutkář (Puppeteer) magazine.

Edi Majaron,  after studies at Academy of Music in Ljubljana he had finished in 1968 postgraduate study of violoncello with prof. Miloš Sádlo at AMU in Prague, vice dean at that time prof.Erik Kolar enabled him to attend also lectures at the Chair of Puppetry. Coming home he founded in Ljubljana a puppet Theater, latter named “Jože Pengov”. From 1979 till 1984 he was artistic manager of the Puppet theatre Ljubljana. In 1991 he founded a new puppet group named Freyer Theater, active between 1991 and 2016. He directed about 90 shows in professional puppet theatres in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Poland, Byelorussia, Italy. In 1980 he was elected to the Executive Committee UNIMA and had been there active until 2000 in different Commissions: Professional Training, Research and Puppets in Education, Development and Therapy. He founded in 1988 International puppet festival LUTKE. In 2012 he was nominated as UNIMA Member of Honor. He held workshops for pre-school teachers and primary school teachers in Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. He also lectured students at the universities in Bari (Italy), Oulu (Finland) and Graz (Austria), he wrote also scenic music, usually for his shows, he writes articles on the Aesthetics and History of the Art of Puppets, also on the role of Puppets in Education. He is author of several books on puppets, he won one of the highest State awards for cultural activity – Prešeren’s Found (1988) for his contribution to the Art of Puppets. There are also some important international awards: Sirena d’Oro (Cervia,1984) and Pulcinella d’Oro (Bari,1994) for his contribution to the international collaboration of puppeteers, and The Little Prince Award (Subotica, 2006) for his contribution to the art for children. In 2017 he received The Klemenčič Prize, the highest recognition of UNIMA-Slovenija.

Nina Malíková, a theater critique, historian, journalist and translator is a graduate of the Department of History and Theory of Theatre of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of Charles University, Prague. She worked as a dramaturge  in dramatic and puppet theaters and later as a specialist at the Theater Institute. She has been the editor in chief of the Puppeteer magazine, and she is  pedagog at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre at the Theater Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague. Currently, she is also the expert consultant in the field of Czech Puppet Theater at the Arts and Theater Institute. in dramatic and puppet theaters. She was and she is the curator of puppet exhibitions – the last one: Three Perspectives on Czech Puppet Theater.  He is the author of a number of articles and publications about the Czech puppet theater. She is president of Czech centre UNIMA.

Michael Meschke  took his high-school certificate and began his theatre studies: string puppet theatre with Harro Siegel in Braunschweig, Germany; mime with Etienne Decroux in Paris; directing in Avignon and Salzburg (1951).
He founded the travelling theatre company „Marionetteatern Michael Meschke” and created a number of solo performances. The Marionetteatern was founded with Michael Meschke as Theatre Director and Artistic Director. He occupied both positions until 1999. For forty years he worked as a theatre-manager, puppet-maker, puppeteer, director, writer and teacher. Meschke developed the theatre’s repertoire, typically by adapting the works of great writers from Sophocles to Brecht. Michael Meschke created the Marionettmuseet (The International Puppet Theatre Museum),   a sister organization to the Marionetteatern (1973). Michael Meschke’s life has been distinguished by an internationalism that also characterized the Marionetteatern. He has been deeply involved with the international puppet-theatre organization UNIMA, serving as a member of its executive committee for twenty-two years, as chairman of its Third World Commission, and as Vice-President, co-founder and chairman of UNIMA-Sweden. Meschke handed over the running of the Marionetteatern to Helena Nilsson (Nilsson-Alvarez) 1999. He has written a number of books and contributed to publications outside Sweden.

Nina Monova, teatrolog, theatre critic. Graduated the Faculty of Theatre History and Critics, the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts in Moscow. Since 2001 she is the Head of the Literary Department of the State Central Academic Puppet Theatre named after Sergey Obraztsov in Moscow. She was the President of the Commission Europe of Executive Committee of UNIMA three times (2004-2016). The Member of Honor of UNIMA Russia. Since 2001 she is redactor of the journal “Theatre of Miracles” about the puppetry in Russia and in the World. She is the expert of the International Puppet Festival named after Sergey Obraztsov. She has written and edited books and articles on puppetry in Russia, Hungary, Spain, the author of some articles in “PUK”, in Hungarian puppet magazine, in Spain magazine “Fantoche”, etc.

Lenka Šaldová has degrees in theatre and Bohemian studies from the Faculty of Art of the Charles University in Prague (2001) and a PhD in theatre studies from the same institution (2007). Since 2005 she has been working for the National Museum as a curator for the museum’s collections and exhibition (puppets and puppet theatre sets). Since the mid-1990s, she has been regularly writing on the subject of theatre, at this time primarily for Divadelní noviny periodical. Her special areas of focus are music theatre and contemporary German theatre. She has been the director of the Opera Festival of Music Theatre since 2001.

Kristyna Täubelová regularly designs sets for the children’s theatre Minor, dance company VerTeDance and BocaLocaLab. She also creates her own original work on the borders of theatre, performance and visual art. In addition to scenography, she works in the areas of graphic design, illustration, artists’ books and sculpture. Since 2012, she has been an external collaborator with SCT UFFO in Trutnov, working on dramaturgy for the children’s and school programmes and engaging in other creative collaboration. She has been published in the magazine Loutkář (Puppeteer), and publications produced by Prague’s DAMU and the Theatre Academy in St. Petersburg. She is represented in the book Český kostým XX. Století (Czech Costume of the Twentieth Century), published in 2011. She received the 2007 Alfréd Radok award for scenography for the production Z knihy džunglí (From a Jungle Book) at Prague’s Minor Theatre. This production was also awarded first prize for scenography at the 2007 Mateřinka festival and the main prize at the prestigious International Festival of Puppetry Art (Międzynarodowy Festiwal Sztuki Lalkarskiej) in 2010. The production František z kaštanu a Anežka ze slunečnic (František from the Chesnut and Anežka from the Sunflower) won the main prize at the 2019 Dítě v Dlouhé (Children in Dlouhé) festival.

Zuzana Vojtíšková is a theatre, radio, and television dramaturge. She has a degree in directing and dramaturgy from the DAMU Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre. She has been with Czech Radio since 1991, and is currently in the CR Drama and Literature Creative Group. From 2006 to 2013 she was a dramaturge at the Lampion Kladno Theatre. She also freelances for Czech Television and with other makers. She was the dramaturge for the film Conversations with TGM made by Pavel Kosatík and Jakub Červenka. In 2015 she was the initiator and dramaturge for the Czech-Norwegian-Icelandic project “Comparing Several Puppet Theatre Dramatizations of a Norwegian Folk-Tale”.