The Maribor Puppet Theatre is located in the renovated Minorite Monastery on Lent in the southwestern corner of the city walls, between the Judgment Tower and the Žički dvor. The renovated spaces, no longer in a sacral, military or residential function, provide premium support for collaborative artistic creation of puppetry, related performing and musical content.
Cooperation with various institutions, independent organizations and individuals increases the quality of the proprietary programme the theatre offers, brings the contents on offer to a wider audience, and further popularizes the art of puppetry. The theatre heavily invests in education and active development, thereby raising the standards in this field of activity. The theatre aims to represent an attractive and modern puppet centre which – through creative imagination, understanding of the
art of puppetry, and a good organization of additional contents – thoughtfully and sensibly addresses even the most demanding audiences of all ages.
History of the Theatre
The beginnings of the development of puppetry in Maribor date back to the time between the two wars. The Sokol societies in Maribor encouraged the creation of puppet stages. In 1922, the city's Češki Club founded a marionette theatre.
Every Sunday, the youngest citizens of the town could watch a puppet show in the small hall of Narodni dom. One of the town's newspapers wrote about The Enchanted Prince (Začarani princ) in 1923 that the play was well rehearsed and skilfully acted, the puppets' costumes were appropriate to the text and their animation was skilful.
In 1930, the Sokol Maribor Matica Puppet and Marionette Theatre was founded, followed by the Sokol Studenci Puppet Stage the following year. The Maribor Matica Theatre operated under the direction of Vojeslav Ipavec in Narodni dom until 1941. Teachers, artists and others took part in it. In the mid-1930s, regular performances for adults were also offered to the citizens.
In 1932, a puppetry course was organised, which was very well attended. The course taught the participants about puppet construction and animation, the model of the folding stage, the educational importance of puppetry, and was concluded with a performance. The late 1930s also saw the emergence of a number of private, family-run miniature marionette stages, which is testimony to the popularity of puppetry.
After 1948, the central focus of the further development of Maribor puppetry was the puppet stage of KUD Jože Hermanko under the direction of the teacher Janez Kadiš. Kadiš performed as a puppeteer soloist in villages, holiday colonies, youth work brigades, carrying a 17 kg suitcase with his props, puppets and a folding stage. Kadiš's collaborators also included the academic painter Bojan Golija, who took care of the stage design, and the sculptor Anton
Jezovšek, who designed the puppets.
In 1955, the puppet stage of KUD Jože Hermanko was given a hall in Zadružni dom (Cooperative Centre) on Partizanska cesta, from where the puppeteers had to move out after ten years, as the Cooperative Centre was scheduled for demolition.
At that time, the Association of Freedom and Educational Societies of the Maribor District (Zveza Svobod in prosvetnih društev okraja Maribor) published the magazine Lutkar. In 1958 they organised the first meeting of puppet groups.
In 1958, the artistic direction of the Puppet Theatre KUD Jože Hermanko was taken over by Danilo Vranc, who, as an art and technical pedagogue, introduced many technical and puppet innovations into the operation of the stage. One of these was the use of wayangs in 1959 in the performance Baš Čelik.
In 1968, the puppeteers were given a hall next to the town library in Rotovž. The new hall in Rotovž Square was inaugurated on 8 February 1968 with the production of Speckles the Ball (Miček Fliček by Jan Malik). The Rotovž Square hall was supposed to be a temporary solution, but the puppet theatre continued to have its home there until 2010.
The second puppet group, which was the creator of today's puppet theatre, was Malo gledališče lutk DPD Svoboda Pobrežje, led by Tine Varl. The puppet theatre of Pobrežje started from a small portable stage with technically unsophisticated hand puppets, which allowed them to tour around north-eastern Slovenia. They were closely linked to the Ljubljana-based Jože Pengov Puppet Theatre. They often borrowed puppets or stage sets, and often collaborated with artists working there.
In 1973, the Puppet Theatre KUD Jože Hermanko and the Malo gledališče lutk DPD Svoboda Pobrežje merged. The Maribor Puppet Theatre in the process of being established began to operate. The expert report on the merger and the establishment of the Maribor Puppet Theatre was prepared by Tine Varl. With the adoption of the charter document of the Maribor Puppet Theatre on 28 December 1974, the second professional puppet theatre in Slovenia was created. The
establishment of the Maribor Puppet Theatre was an important step towards the development of Slovenian puppetry.
The first professional season opened on 28 November 1974 with the premiere of The Flying Cow by director and graphic art creator Bojan Čebulj, who became the first director of the Maribor Puppet Theatre (from 1974 to 1991).
The first decade of the Maribor Puppet Theatre (short: LGM) was marked by the exploration of technical capacities. Most of the texts put on stage during this period were puppet or theatre novelties. Among the directors working at the LGM at that time, Bojan Čebulj, Danilo Vranc, Tine Varl, Edi Majaron and Janez Jemec created the most performances.
The Maribor Puppet Theatre became famous with the thirteen-episode television hit The Little Beasts of Rezija filmed in the season 1975/76, directed by Tine Varl and Marjan Ciglič, and visual design by Breda Varl.
Pegam and Lambergar (directed by Edi Majaron, visual design by Janez Vidic) was a great success, with which Maribor puppeteers represented former Yugoslavia at the International Festival of Asian and the Pacific countries in Tokyo. They also performed at the famous festival in Bielsko Biała, Poland.
At the 2nd Biennial of Yugoslav Puppetry in Bugojno in 1983, Petra Caserman received a gold badge for animation for her role of Pinocchio in the performance The Wooden Story (director Jelena Sitar, visual design by Brane Solce).
In 1990, the LGM organised the first international Summer Puppet Pier Festival, which remains a regular feature of the city's summer events.
From 1991 to 1998, Tine Varl was the director of the Maribor Puppet Theatre.
The programme of Klemenčič Days - the 1st Biennial of Slovenian Puppetry - took place on the stage of the Maribor Puppet Theatre from 21 to 23 September 1994. Klemenčič Days moved to Novo mesto two years later.
In 1996, the puppeteers went on a tour to Argentina to visit the Slovene emigrants with the performances The Little Witch (director Katarina Zahradnikova, visual design by Miroslav Melena) and Riddles, riddles ...? (director Jožica Roš, visual design by Breda Varl).
The third and fourth decades of the LGM (acting director in 1999 Karla Godič, director from 1999 to 2004 and since 2016 Katarina Klančnik Kocutar, director from 2004 to 2009 Breda Varl) has been marked by the increasing work of local theatre directors, such as Jernej Lorenci, Diego de Brea, Andreja Kovač, Matjaž Latin, as well as foreign directors, such as the Czech director Pavel Polák, who has already established strong links with the
LGM in the past, and the Hungarian director Laszlo Rumi.
The Circus is Coming! from 1997 was a great success at home and abroad (director Pavel Polák, visual design by Pavel Kalfus). The Maribor puppeteers travelled all over Europe with it, and also performed it in Mexico, where it was performed in Spanish. Numerous awards followed. In 2001, they received the award for the best overall performance at the International Puppet Festival in Prague, in 2003 they received the grand prix for the
best performance at the Sarajevo Festival, and at the Subotica Festival in the same year, Karla Godič received the award for her role.
The 1997 production of The Dimwits (directed by Pavel Polák, visual design by Jaroslav Milfajt), after touring to SLUK in Osijek and the Sibenik Children's Festival, was also performed at a festival in Taiwan.
In 2001, the Maribor Puppet Theatre hosted the Biennial of Puppetry Artists of Slovenia for the first time.
In 2001, the puppeteers were voted "best cultural workers" by journalists and received the Mariborčan magazine award.
In 2005, actress Karla Godič received the Glazer Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
In 2009Mojca Redjko became the director and artistic director.
The Maribor Puppet Theatre started its 2010/2011 season in new premises in the renovated former Minorite monastery on Lent. During the opening weekend, around 12 thousand curious visitors walked through the open doors of the Puppet Theatre, and the first performances in the new building were The Baptism at the Savica (director Andreja Kovač, visual design by Vasilija Fišer) and Flesh or Revelation (director Jernej Lorenci, visual design by Gregor
In the period after the move to the new premises, the Maribor Puppet Theatre hosted many local and foreign puppeteers, including Jernej Lorenci, Gregor Lorenci, Jakub Vašíček, Tereza Venclová, Jelena Sitar Cvetko, Margrit Gysin, Silvan Omerzu, Matija Solce, Noriyuki Sawa, Nika Bezeljak, Svetlana Patafta, Marek Bečka, Tamara Kučinović, Matjaž Latin, Klemen Markovčič, and many others.
On 29 September 2011, together with the Puppetry Artists Institution of Slovenia, the Maribor Puppet Theatre once again took over the organisation of the Biennial of Puppetry Artists of Slovenia - the national puppet festival. The winner of the 6th Biennial was LGM's performance Flesh or Revelation (director Jernej Lorenci, visual design by Gregor Lorenci).
LGM is a guest at festivals at home and abroad. A number of performances and artists have recently won major awards.
In 2014, the LGM's outdoor auditorium was opened, offering the city a new summer venue. At the end of 2015, the renovation of the Minorite Church, which completes the monastery complex, was concluded. Since 2022, the Maribor Puppet Theatre also manages the Judgement Tower and proudly opens the doors of the first Puppet Museum in the city.
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Puppet Theatre Maribor