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Puppet Theatre (Kiev)

1A Mikhaila Grushevskogo Street, Khreshchaty Park, Kiev (tel.: +38 044 278-58-08, +38 044 278-84-99), Metro station: "Ploshchad Nezavisimosti".

Map

http://www.akadempuppet.kiev.ua

The Kiev State Puppet Theatre (the Puppet Theatre or the Theatre, for short) is Ukraine's oldest puppet theatre; it was founded on 27 October 1927 as part of the Kiev Franko Theatre for Children (later known as the Young Spectators' Theatre on Lipki) at the initiative of Ukraine's People's Artist Aleksandr Solomarsky and Irina Deyeva. The Theatre's first season was opened with two productions, Old Petrushka and Musicians, based on works by L. Yegibov, with the stage version made by P. Shcherbatinsky.

The Theatre's first actors, who became founders of the Theatre's best traditions, were F. Andriyevskaya, M. Kozlovsky, O. Mikhaylov, I. Zaliznyak, A. Vishnevskaya, T. Vasnetsova, G. Soroka and Ya. Zhovinsky. It was these actors that took the Theatre's first steps on its way towards, so to speak, Mount Parnassus, the home of the Muses. In the 1930s, this journey was continued by their successors such as the production designer Ye. Margolina, the designer Ye. Vasilyeva and the actors Yu. Sokolik, Ye. Pevna, G. Trubetskaya, Ye. Storozhenko, Ya. Mirsakov, M. Pototskaya, R. Kotvitskaya, F. Yaninskaya, A. Buryakovsky, Ye. Solodar, B. Goncharov and V. Goncharova.

The mastery of the Theatre's puppeteers was recognised in 1937, at the 1st All-USSR Festival for Puppet Theatres, when the Jewish branch of the Theatre performed O. Kuishich's Magic Grain and Binyomin Gutyansky's Angry Lazar, winning the first prize.

The happy years of the intensive creative work were interrupted by the Second World War.

The Theatre's first performance in Kiev that had been liberated from the Nazi troops took place in 1946. Children welcomed back their favourite company, which at that time was led by Mariya Tobilevich, a daughter of the famous playwright Ivan Karpenko-Kary.

In the building at 7 Yaroslavov Val Street, which housed the Theatre during that time, the stage directors Zoya Pigulovich, Leonid Zarubin, Ya. Zhovinsky, O. Ishchenko, and O. Sumarokov produced a multitude of interesting shows. Later, the Theatre's repertoire included a show for grown-ups, Isidor Shtok's The Divine Comedy (based on the poem by Dante), staged by the director M. Rudin together with the designer R. Margolina and the composer V. Shkapov. Great popularity was enjoyed among Kiev residents by a show for grown-ups, Jan Drda's and Isidor Shtok's The Devil's Mill, staged by Sumarokov.

The Theatre's great success in its creative work was confirmed in 1946 by the fact that the Theatre received the first prize at the All-Ukrainian Review of Puppet Theatres; at the review, the Theatre performed the Brothers Grimm's The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids staged by Zhovinsky.

The contemporary Puppet Theatre is a worthy heir of its famous predecessors.

The Theatre is distinguished from other theatres by its profound comprehension of contemporary puppet theatre art, by its high artistic culture and by its vivid imagery and poetry.

A studio for training puppeteers was opened at the Theatre, while two specialist courses, The Variety Actor with the Puppet and The Actor of Puppet Theatre, were started at the Kiev College of Circus and Variety Art.

The high professional level of the Theatre's actors allows realising any idea of a stage director or a playwright. As a result of its company's hard and patient work, the Theatre boasts a large repertoire that contains Ukraine's and the world's best achievements in puppet drama.

Thanks to a fruitful cooperation between the Theatre and Ukrainian dramatists, the Theatre's repertoire included such productions as those of Bogdan Chaly's Barvinok, Grigory Usach's Our Merry Kolobok and Zhenchik-Brenchik, P. Vysotsky's Ancient Legend, Nelya Sheyko-Medvedeva's Adventures of the Cossack Golota and Reveal Your Angels, Yury Chepovetsky's After the Blue Bird and Misha's Adventures, V. Danilevich's Prince in Love, I. Zlatopolsky's and Ya. Zlatopolsky's Magic Mitten, M. Petrenko's Adventures of Father Frostand New Year's Surprise of Quicky the Bunny and Vsevolod Nestayko's New Year's Miracle and Adventures of Traffic Lights.

At the initiative of the Puppet Theatre, an international festival for puppet theatres has been held in Kiev since 1991. Among the participants there have been leading puppet theatres from Belgium, Austria, Canada, Slovakia, Finland, Japan, China, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Buryatiya (an autonomous republic within Russia), Turkey and other countries.

Experts from various countries have recognised the festival as one of Europe's most prestigious festivals.

The Puppet Theatre has been a worthy representative for Ukraine at various prestigious international theatre forums and festivals in Austria, the US, Peru, Canada, Slovakia, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Bulgaria, Belarus and Russia.

For its prominent and long-standing work in the area of the aesthetic upbringing of the younger generation through the theatre art, for its public activities including the organisation and conducting of international festivals that contributed to strengthening creative links between various countries, in 1995 the Theatre was awarded the Friendship International Prize.

The Theatre is a collective member of the UNIMA (UNion Internationale de la Marionnette or the International Union of the Puppet), an international association for people of puppet theatre.

On 30 October 2002, Ukraine's Ministry of Culture and Arts awarded the Puppet Theatre with the status of an academic theatre, for its significant contribution to the development of theatre art.

On 19 December 2005, a new building of the Theatre, in Kreshchaty Park, at 1A Mikhaila Grushevskogo Street, was opened; the building looks like a fairy-tale castle. Timed to coincide with St Nicolas Day (according to the Julian calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church), the opening involved Aleksandr Omelchenko, the mayor of Kiev, and Viktor Yushchenko, the president of Ukraine; the latter handed a symbolic golden key to Nikolay Petrenko, the head manager of the Theatre.

Before the building had been constructed and opened, the Theatre was housed by several different buildings.

After eight years of wandering, the Theatre's puppets had finally found their home. Nikolay Petrenko became the head manager and head artistic director of the Theatre.

This puppet theatre is easy to recognise. After a dull, drab stagnation, the Theatre, like Cinderella with the wave of the magic wand, turned into a real palace.

In the Theatre's square, children enjoy a beautiful fountain, which is unique in that its water compositions alternate, accompanied by music.

On 11 November 2006, new fairy-tale characters appeared around the Puppet Theatre. The small Thumbelina, who sits solemnly atop a flower in the middle of the fountain, got new friends.

The authors of the concept decided to bring the fairy tale to life not only inside the building, but also all around the park, by placing figures of characters from Aleksey Tolstoy's tale about adventures of Buratino (based on Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio).

As should be expected, the main character, Buratino, comes first; standing on the first floor of the Theatre, he is waving his golden key. Down, at the corner of the building, the old organ-grinder Father Carlo has put off his hat. By the way, children like trying on his hat very much. Under one of the arches, Pierrot, a sad poet in search of his fiancee, is dropping a tear. On the other side of the main entrance, there is his beloved Malvina.

The sculptors did not forget about the characters from the truly Ukrainian tales either. On one of the platforms by the Theatre, the valiant hero Kotigoroshek, finishing off the Dragon, was placed.

The Puppet Theatre has become immensely popular among Kiev residents. There are many people around it all the time; even if there are no performances, parents bring their children here to play by the "castle".

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Puppet Theatre

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