International activities

International activities are comparatively frequent in the puppet theatre sector, largely because of the communicative character of the genre which is based on visualisation. In this kind of theatre we can find productions which are not dependent upon the spoken language. Slovak puppet theatres have long presented shows to foreign audiences in the style of ‘black theatre’ based on non-verbal, musical and graphic principles.
Regional government puppet companies, independent ensembles such as Teatro Tatro and PIKI Theatre and solo artists alike have taken their productions to many foreign countries and are frequent guests at international festivals.
Graphic artist Eva Farkasova, designer of puppets and costumes and scenographer, is a regular visitor to the Polish and Czech puppet dramatic or opera theatres and her works have contributed some interesting artistic values. Apart from Poland and the Czech Republic, she has also visited Taiwan (see Internationally known personalities working outside of theatres).
Two puppetry directors – Ondrej Spisak, the director of the Karol Spišák Old Theatre in Nitra, and Marian Pecko, Artistic Director of Puppet Theatre at the Crossroads – work very frequently abroad. Both are renowned artists in Poland where they have collaborated with theatre companies (e.g. in Warsaw, Bialystok, Bielska-Biala, Lodž, Toruň, Opole and Katowice).
PIKI Theatre recently collaborated with the Taptoe Theatre of Gent, Belgium where they presented their adapted production O deviatich mesiačikoch (‘About Nine Little Moons’).
The international activities of individual artists are generally based on individual agreements or reciprocity. It is on this basis, for example, that designers Farkasova and Miroslav Dusa and director Vladimir Predmersky often work at the Osiyek Puppet Theatre in Croatia.
Designer Jana Pogorielova-Dusova and her husband, technologist Anton Dusa, who worked with the late traditional Slovak puppet theatre maker Anton Anderle, regularly design and make puppets for puppet theatre productions in Germany and Austria. For instance, the puppets, scenery and settings used by Theatre Fundus of Dresden in its production of Faust all came from their workshop. One of their most interesting international projects was Eibesthalské pašie (‘Eibesthal Passions’), a Passion Play for which they created the wooden sculpture puppets and also designed the settings in the village of Eibesthal in Lower Austria. Czech television made a documentary directed by Drahomil Sisovic about this project.
Jana Pogorielova-Dusova and Anton Dusa created a scene and costume, in which the traditional Slovak puppeteer Anton Anderle used to play. It was just Anton Anderle, the prematurely deceased puppeteer, who revived today the only museum puppet culture of traditional marionette theatre. He was known to the audience and experts on all continents and belonged to personalities of the world puppet theatre (died 16. May 2008).
International co-operation within the context of puppet festivals involves not only the presentation of productions by international theatre companies, but also the exchange and dialogue which accompanies the presentation. Such festivals become a forum for knowing each other, for exchanging creative ideas and for devising joint international projects.
The UNIMA – Union International de la marionnette plays the vital role in the context of international relationships. The International Union of the Marionette (UNIMA), a UNESCO organisation since 1960, UNIMA is the oldest theatre organisation in the world. It was founded in the former Czechoslovakia in 1929. Slovakia has been a member of UNIMA since 1993. Its predecessor was the Slovak section of UNIMA as part of the Czechoslovak UNIMA centre.
A successor to the Slovak Section of the former Czech-Slovak UNIMA Centre, the Slovak UNIMA Centre is an independent non-governmental organisation with a legal status. Its chairman and committee work on a voluntary basis and are elected by members every four years. The aim of the UNIMA is to promote puppet theatre, to support international co-operation and cultural exchange, to undertake research in the area of the puppet theatre, to help conserve the puppetry heritage and to develop puppetry training projects.
The Slovak UNIMA Centre played a crucial role in the foundation of the Museum of Puppetry and Toys and actively participates in the organisation of international scientific conferences and research.
In 2008 UNIMA was involved in the creation of an international documentary film entitled Posledná maringotka (‘The Last Caravan’) about the wandering puppet theatre tradition. Created as an independent co-production of FURIA FILM, s. r. o., Slovak Television and Czech Television, the film depicts the lives of the last descendants of the traditional puppet theatre families in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. The film was shown at 26 festivals in Europe and in the USA and was given two awards at the international film festivals.
At an international level the Slovak UNIMA Centre is represented by two delegates. In the periods 2000-2004 and 2004-2008, Ida Hledikova was a member of the UNIMA executive and an internationally-elected member of the executive committee. In the current period, Ms Hledikova is active in the international structures of UNIMA as chairwoman of the Commission for the Research of Puppet Theatre and she was elected to the UNIMA executive for the period 2012-2016. The chairman of the Slovak UNIMA Centre is Ivan Gontko.