SECOND IMPULSE FOR ADULTS (26. 9. – 27. 9. 2014)
Some remarks on the topic: Puppet theatre for adults in practice

 

Those who are not aware of their past are doomed to relive it again.
Chinese proverb

 

Introduction
Dividing the festival (first time in 2010) into two parts based on the age of their target audience did and still does seek to pursue the same objectives: to popularise and emancipate puppetry in the eyes of the broad as well as the expert public as an equal art genre. Puppetry as an inspiration for adults. 

 

Alterations, transformations?
Has anything changed in puppetry festivals' organization, compared to 2012?  There is nothing more to say than: no, everything is the same as before. Most festivals are mainly dedicated to children and in this line of shows for children and their parents, there are only few adults' productions scattered around. In practice, this is the case even when it comes to the most renowned European festivals in Charleville-Mézières (FR) or the Festival of Wonder, Silkeborg (DK). The number of puppetry festivals aimed solely on adult audience has not increased either. Within our immediate reach there are only three: the international festival Puppet is human too, Warsaw (PL), a festival International Puppet festival for Adults in Pécs (HU) and Pierrot, Stara Zagora (BG).  Puppet productions for adults are mostly presented only at puppetry festivals (ironically, these are dedicated to children) and from time to time in an established theatre. Sporadically at a alternative or a drama festival. In practice it remains true that puppet theatres and troupes consider productions for adults to be something extra, because there is not much of an audience to play for. Quoting the festival bulletin from two years ago: “Puppetry for adults is something few see a need for.”

 

The state of things in Slovakia
Has anything changed in adults' shows produced by Slovak puppet theatres compared to 2012, though? Surprisingly, yes. Since the Bábkarská Bystrica festival in 2012, several Slovak puppet theatres (hereinafter pt) created performances intended for an adult audience. Their number is certainly higher compared to the data from 2010 – 2012, when 5 Slovak pt produced 6 shows. In 2012 – 2014, 7 troupes altogether produced 14 shows for adults. It means twice the number than two years ago! These are: 3 by Old Theatre Nitra (Solitaire, Dracula, Dogville), 1 by Puppet Theatre in Košice (Carneval for gibbet) , 4 by PTAC Banská Bystrica (Diagnosis: word, Letter to the black son, Nostalgia, Ilona, the wife of Hviezdoslav), 3 by the Dezorz Puppet Theatre (Sandokan – Tiger returns, Fantomas and the zombie hunter, Don Juan and the prodigal son), 1 by the Puppet Theatre in Žilina (Kate the Hangman's daughter) and 1 by the ensemble Med a prach (Home, Eros, Faith) and one by Odivo (Love P and passion B). The statistics are even more increased by productions of the Department of Puppetry, VŠMU in Bratislava that puts on shows for adults regularly. Over the past two seasons, this number climbed up to 7 (Jump out of the skin, Sad monodrama, Taming of the shrew: the recipe for love, Hola, Madrid, Jánošík? Jánošík! Jánošík..., I, Don Quijote, Boloneys). The list concludes with 1 show (Faust and Marguerite) produced by Teatre Tatro. Do these rising numbers mean that there is a specific audience forming, an audience that might finally come to accept puppetry for adults? An audience that wants to go to a puppet theatre in the evening? Before we answer these questions, it needs to be noted that there has also been a rise in non-drama-related events taking place in puppet theatres. F.e. the Old Theatre Nitra regularly organizes literary evenings, or a Cabaret on a given theme. PTAC cyclically holds various discussions and staged evenings. In Slovakia, there are 3 puppet theatres that play for adults regularly: PTAC Banská Bystrica (twice a week, 12 productions), Old Theatre Nitra (once, sporadically twice a week + literary evenings, 9 productions) and Dezorz Puppet Theatre (once a week, 9 productions). The ensemble Med a prach occasionally performs in the Ticho a spol. theatre. Puppet theatre Žilina had an ambition to play for adults, however it is currently being renovated. The information on audience numbers that is available to us claims that the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Old Theatre Nitra sells out quickly. Each of the evening shows has 90 spectators on average.
In PTAC it is usually 50 spectators per show (smaller theatre hall, playing only twice a week), among the most sold out shows belongs our production Nostalgia. Puppet plays for adults have quite many reruns (at least 25 in PTAC), and due to this fact they remain in our repertories. VŠMU reruns most of their shows 3 to 10 times. PTAC Banská Bystrica is the only pt to hold shows for high school and university students (29 shows in the first six months of 2014, on average 5 shows per month). A confusing aspect is that most puppet theatres do not have a repertory divided according to the age of the target audience (as we found out, within the immediate region there is only one theatre other than PTAC that separates their productions for children from their productions for adults, and it is the Groteska Theatre in Krakow, PL) and thus you can easily run into The Three Little Pigs right next to f.e. Dogville, The Graduate, etc. For complexity of the cause, it needs to be noted just as two years ago, that not all puppet theatres produce only puppet shows. Most evening performances of the Old Theatre Nitra do not make a use of puppets and 2 out of 4 PTAC's shows neither. To the question of whether there is an audience forming for evening performances in puppet theatre, we can answer: yes. However, it needs to be stated that this audience does not specifically go to these theatres to see puppets. Usually it is the theme/title that is important to them, or they might be intrigued by a specific form of the adaptation, or a distinguished director. If puppet theatres A) offer productions for adults, B) work on raising awareness among the public, C) have financial means to keep their production running (adults' puppetry requires much more than children's puppetry from all aspects of theatre), THEN... Last, but not the least, inner motivation of theatre´s artistic repertory is important as well. 

Proving that (both drama and puppet) productions by puppet theatres can be introduced in a very broad theatrical context, drama productions of PTAC Banská Bystrica feature at many theatre festivals for adults, such as New Drama in Bratislava, or Touches and Connections in Martin. Same is the case of the recently established ensemble Med a prach.

 

Many thanks for their assistance to: Dária Fehérová (The Theatre Institute Bratislava), Veronika Gabčíková (Old Theatre Nitra), Barbora Zamišková (Department of Puppetry, VŠMU Bratislava).

 

Selection
This year's programme selection was influenced by the main themes of the Second Impulse, with focus on the aforementioned incentives. The selection features shows thematically focused on: W. Shakespeare; topic of war and violence. We waived the requirement of these shows being unambiguously a puppet production, so we could present you with performances that contain certain elements of animation, originate in puppet theatres and could not have come from anywhere else but the realm of puppetry (Diagnosis: word, director Iveta Škripková). Topics of war and bigotry are developed in two productions: Blood Hygiene, Líšeň, CZ (director Pavla Dombrovská and collective) and the project Commence the eviction! (director Katarína Aulitisová) that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising.  
Commence the eviction! is the very first site-specific performance in the history of the festival and it was produced as a co-operative project solely for purposes of the Bábkarská Bystrica festival. Its main motives are Slovak National Uprising, Radvanskí manor-house (where the project settled down in August, despite the manor-house being a rather uncoventional location) and inhabitants of Banská Bystrica during these uneasy times. This project is a result of a shared effort by: festival Bábkarská Bystrica, VŠMU Bratislava, JAMU Brno and Conservatory of J. L. Bella in Banská Bystrica. Its implementation makes a direct reference to the current tendencies of non-theatrical shows and of utilizing alternative practices which has been always close to puppetry.
The programme selection is complemented by the ensemble Med a prach and their production of The Bartimej's Passion. The play received the Hašterica Award 2013 for creative accomplishment in the field of Slovak puppetry. The Midsummer Night's Dream by W. Shakespeare tends to be one of the most favorised Shakespearean titles and therefore we are glad to see it as performed by the Banialuka Theatre, Bialsko-Biale, PL (director Marián Pecko). Nevertheless, works of W. Shakespeare are not very popular with Slovak puppet theatres. The latest production we saw was Macbeth (director K. Brožek) by the Old Theatre Nitra in 2007.  The selection of Shakespearean plays introduced at the festival was significantly affected by our financial stadning, given that producing these is usually very pricey and demanding in terms of casting.
Due to a time restraint, neither this year we welcome the german company Figurentheater Wilde and Vogel that features several adaptations of W. Shakespeare in its repertory, Out of personal restraints neither Puppet Theatre Žilina can make it for the festival with their show Epos. Another two performances for adults – Love P a passion B, Odivo, Banská Bystrica, SK (director Monika Kováčová), and Mironescópio: The Love machine, A Tarumba, Portugal (director Rute Ribeiro) – belong among visual puppet productions, Mironescópio: The Love machine being a remarkable atraction. Both of them soften thematically the severe topics of war and bigotry by bringing humour and relief to the festival selection.

 

We hope that impulses of the Second Impulse turn out to be a priceless dramatic experience for all its spectators! (is)

 

As dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
W. Shakespeare, Tempest