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100 Years of Puppetry in Slovenia

One hundred years have passed since the first Slovenian puppets came into being. Marking the 100th anniversary of puppetry, the National Museum of Slovenia is hosting an exhibition of props, stage design elements and puppets, which are an important part of Slovenia`s puppetry and cultural heritage. The puppet exhibition will be open until 8 June.

For more than 60 years, two professional puppet theatres have been operating in Slovenia: the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, which will be hosting the 12th International Puppet Theatre Festival "Lutke 2014" from 12 to 16 September, and the Puppet Theatre Maribor. There are also some smaller theatres, as well as independent groups and individuals dealing with puppetry, such as Mini Teater and The Fru-Fru Puppet Theatre.

From its very beginning, puppetry in Slovenia has been closely related to fine arts. The Slovenian painter Milan Klemenčič pioneered the art of puppetry by introducing the traditions from Italy and Germany. In 1910 he opened his own private Tiny String-puppet Theatre to the public. Later he became the director of the Slovenian string puppet theatre, the first (semi-) professional puppet theatre in Slovenia, which was housed in the same building as today`s Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. In the interwar period there was a boom in puppetry connected with the Sokol youth sports movement, following the Czech example. In the late 1930s there were as many as 43 string puppet stages registered as part of Sokol club activities, which greatly contributed to the popularisation of puppet theatre. Only few years later, the Partisan Puppet Theatre was founded, which was a surprising cultural phenomenon of the time. String puppets were the predominant feature of the early stages of Slovenian puppetry. This changed when Niko Kuret, an ethnologist, made a stage for hand puppets and created the Pavliha. This is a Slovenian variety of the puppet with a mischievous character known in many European countries.

Throughout the century, puppets and the way of working in the theatre have changed, but one thing has remained the same: excellent Slovenian painters and illustrators creating hundreds of puppets. The exhibition shows the works of Agata Freyer and Edi Majaron, and was arranged under the auspices of Mini Teater and the International Union of the Marionette (UNIMA), Slovenia, with the help of Slovenian puppet theatres, the National Theatre Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary History, and the National Museum of Slovenia. Most of the 200 exhibited puppets come from the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, and were made by established Slovenian artists.

The puppet exhibition housed in the National Museum of Slovenia will be opened until 8 June, and will then move on to Belgrade. The puppets will also be exhibited in Kotor and Bar (Montenegro), Zagreb (Croatia), Subotica and Novi Sad (Serbia), and Budapest (Hungary).



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