Opening of the exhibition: PUPPETS TAKE OVER CROATIA IN 1920 - 90 YEARS OF UNIMA



The Marionette Theatre, founded in 1916, was headed by Velimir Deželić. Ljubo Babić created artwork and puppet drawings for the most famous interwar play, Petrica Kerempuh and the Smart Donkey by Dragutin Domjanić, which premiered on 9 April 1920. Since 1933, one of the Marionette Theatre's members was Mladen Širola – the first Croatian member of UNIMA. A separate theatre scene – the Marionette Art Club – was also active at the time and the aesthetic achievements of their plays delighted Stanislavski during the Moscow Art Theatre's visit to Zagreb in 1923. The Marionette Theatre became active again in 1935 under the artistic direction of Mladen Širola. Thanks to Vlado Habunek and Radovan Ivšić, the founder of the Youth Company (1940 – 1948), Croatian puppetry was introduced to Java puppets and Guignol puppets. Sokol Puppet Theatre has been active in Split since 1933, led by the famous architect and scenographer Vlaho Linardović. Among the many marionette performances, the most prominent one is Kalasira, the Daughter of the Egyptian King or the Lotus Flower, or Marinko in Egypt staged in 1935. Based on the literary work of Count Franz Graf von Pocci, it brought to the stage Little Marinko – a character whose stage status was at the level of his European brothers, Punch, Karagöz and Hanswurst, but also his Croatian cousin Petrica Kerempuh. Sokol Marionette Theatre shortly existed in Sušak/Rijeka (1933 – 1935). It was led by Zvonimir Turina, a professor of Croatian language. Most of the texts for the theatre were written by the prominent dramatist Viktor Car Emin. The protagonist of his plays is a boy called Jurić who is typologically related to Petrica Kerempuh in Zagreb and Little Marinko in Split. In Osijek, four puppet theatres were active at the same time; the Catholic Society of Women, the Jewish Women's Association, the Sokol Puppet Theatre and the Czech Puppet Theatre. The first play of the Sokol Puppet Theatre was staged on 31 December 1935 and the director of the play The Czar and the Detective was Stanislav Hočevar. The Czech Puppet Theatre and the Sokol Puppet Theatre often exchanged texts and both theatre staged marionette plays. The main hero of the Czech plays was Kašpárek whose poetic character was similar to Petrica Kerempuh, Little Marinko and Jurić. At Sokol Puppet Theatre, Kašpárek was often called Gašparček. The production of puppet plays faded in 1938 but its artistic diversity inspired today's Branko Mihaljević Children's Theatre. The exhibition is based on the material from the Division for the History of the Croatian Theatre at the Institute for the History of Croatian Literature, Theatre and Music at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and from the Museum of Slavonia in Osijek.

Author: Antonija Bogner-Šaban

90 Years of UNIMA

International Puppetry Association UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionette) was founded on 20 May 1929 in Prague on the occasion of the Fifth Meeting of Czech Puppeteers which was attended by guests from Bulgaria, France, Yugoslavia, Germany, Austria, Romania and the Soviet Union. UNIMA became the first international organisation of the theatre world. In a short time, it grew from a small circle of friends into a respectable worldwide organisation with members on all continents. The exhibition at the 52nd PIF aims to show the most important moments in UNIMA's history related to Croatian puppetry. It shows all of the congresses (regardless of Croatia’s participation) and all other events that included representatives from Croatia or that were organised in Croatia. Croatia joined UNIMA at the very beginning: Mladen Širola's attendance was documented as early as 1933, at the 4th UNIMA congress. Another important date is 20 March 1992 when UNIMA Croatia was founded. That same year, UNIMA Croatia actively participated at the 16th congress in Ljubljana. Since the 18th congress held in Magdeburg in 2000, Croatia has had a representative in the highest body of UNIMA – the Executive Committee. Another important moment came when the congress was first held in Croatia: Rijeka hosted the 19th congress in 2004, followed by an international puppet festival in Opatija. UNIMA Croatia is very active, it engages in joint actions of UNIMA and its members participate in the Executive Committee, the International Council and in several other commissions. Festivals in Croatia (MDF Šibenik, PIF Zagreb, SLUK Zadar) host various international UNIMA bodies.

Authors: Livija Kroflin i Ivan Špoljarec

Thank you to Nina Malikova and Edi Majaron for providing material on the founding of UNIMA.