Training and research

The Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (VŠMU) in Bratislava is the only institution in Slovakia which prepares professional artists in the field of puppet theatre. The School produces directors, dramaturges, scenographers, technologists and puppeteers/actors. These specialised professions study at the Department of Puppetry which was opened in 1990 and is the newest department within the Faculty of Theatre.
Students are given the opportunity to obtain practical experience from school productions, in workshops and other lessons of practical instruction as defined by the study programmes. The tuition also includes lectures and seminars on theatre theory, history of theatre, philosophy, management and other subjects. Work with puppets or animated objects is considered the most important aspect of study in this Department.
Since its inception the Department of Puppetry has taught 200 graduates who have since applied their knowledge in both the professional governmental and private puppet theatres and drama theatres. Thanks to the universality of their education they have also done well in alternative theatres, dubbing studios, television and even radio. The department also produces specialists in the manufacture of puppets, who are known as puppet technologists.
The first head of the department was Marica Mikulova (1990-2003). From 2003 to 2011 the head was Associate Professor Andrej Pachinger and from 2011 to 2015 Professor Jan Uliciansky, a writer and the author of puppet and radio plays. The present head of the department is a theatrologist, Professor Ida Hledikova. Several important figures active in the world of puppet theatre work for the Department, e.g. poet, playwright and translator and Associate Professor Jozef Mokos, Eva Farkasova, Miroslav Dusa, Peter Cisarik, Jozef Kurinec – designers, Katarina Aulitisova from the PIKI Theatre, Marika Kecskesova, the Artistic Director of clowndoctors organisation and others.
The Department of Puppetry offers students three study options – the Bachelor of Art (Bc), the Master of Art (Mgr art) and postgraduate study (ArtD).
Interested foreigners may obtain education in the form of regular studies or short stays or may take part in the ERASMUS+ Programme. To date students from Belgium, Croatia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Canada and Poland have studied in the Department of the Puppetry.
The Department of the Puppetry represents the School by taking with its productions to international festivals (for instance at Charleville-Mezieres and in Avignon in France, at Darlington in the United Kingdom, at Bielsko-Biala, Białystok and Katowice in Poland, at Brno, Prague and Ostrava in the Czech Republic, at Mistelbach in Austria, at Zagreb and Osijek in Croatia, at Ljubljana in Slovenia, Pécs in Hungary and in Moldova). Productions made by the Department and its students are inspired by different sources, e.g. comedie dell´arte, poetry, modern domestic and foreign literature for children and young people, and classical and experimental forms of the puppet or alternative theatre. The Department of Puppetry is member of the international programmes ERASMUS + and KA2 Strategic Partnerships together with other universities and high school aimed at puppetry from V4 countries.
Apart from the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (VŠMU), the Theatre and Film Cabinet SAS of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) in Bratislava also conducts research into the puppet theatre within the framework of investigation carried out by several specialists and PhD students.
As far as theatre documentation is concerned, the Theatre Institute in Bratislava, a specialised centre established by the Ministry of Culture, plays an important role in all branches of theatre.
Another highly specialised centre is the Museum of Puppetry and Toys in Modrý Kameň. The National Centre for Further Education is also involved in research into amateur puppet theatre.
The Ministry of Culture has nominated traditional Slovak puppetry for the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.