The Kingdom of Puppets – 100 Years

The Kingdom of Puppets – 100 Years

Jun 9 2020 - Jan 31 2021
The Kingdom of Puppets was established 100 years ago. On that occasion, the City of Prague Museum is organizing an exhibition in the House at the Golden Ring (U Zlatého prstenu). It presents primarily puppets, but visitors will also be able to see photographs, designs, stage decorations, stage properties, and costumes. Yes, even puppets have their wardrobe and the costumes created by Anna Suchardová-Brichová are rather unique. Moreover, the exhibition seeks to present the work of people who dedicate their lives to puppets, also because all the puppeteers in the Kingdom of Puppets have always performed for free.
The Kingdom of Puppets was established 100 years ago. On 26 September 1920, the curtain first went up and the puppets made by the sculptor Vojta Sucharda, backed up by the beautiful stage decorations of Anna Suchardová-Brichová, appeared in the fairy tale Long, Broad, and Sharpsight. The performances were then staged every Saturday and Sunday. The new theatre was called Divadélko V říši loutek v Bubenči (Theatre in the Kingdom of Puppets in Bubeneč) and had a seat in the former school chapel in Korunovační Street. The Sucharda couple imprinted a distinctive character in the theatre, assembling a numerous team which was led by the emeritus member of the National Theatre, Marie Aichelburgová-Hilbertová. They performed fairy tales as well as Josef Kajetán Tyl’s The Strakonice Bagpiper, Alois Jirásek’s The Lantern, and William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The theatre soon won a substantial artistic renown and so, when the Municipal Library was being built in the Old Town of Prague, the space for a puppet theatre was kept in mind and offered to the Kingdom of Puppets.
 
The ensemble moved to the new building in the autumn of 1928 and under an altered name The Kingdom of Puppet’s Art Scene became a representative puppet theatre of the city. The architect František Roith designed the theatre in an art deco style with a large backstage area and a stage equipped with various technical devices. The theatre was enthusiastically reported as the most advanced puppet theatre in the world. The puppeteers endeavoured to present the best plays for the puppets.
 
The Kingdom of Puppets has remained in the Municipal Library to the present, not skipping a single season. Although originally only marionettes – puppets controlled from above – were used, hand puppets and wajang puppets emerged over time. Vojta Sucharda was replaced in his theatre manager’s position by the sculptor Bohumír Koubek. Recently, many internal and external artists have been creating the puppets.