On February 26th, 1950 the Central Puppet Theatre (ULD) started its activity with the premiere play Pan Johanes written by Alois Jirásek and directed by Jan Malík, who in an attempt to create a representative scene, introduced the Soviet model of bottom-up led puppets, called javajka or Wajang. The theatre was “illusive”, trying to achieve the greatest stage realism. In the early years, the dramaturgy of the ULD focused primarily on the Soviet titles, nevertheless it has also tried to create an original Czech marionette play – Josef Kainar´s narrative tale of Goldilocks is played till this day (in the ULD alone it has been played in three productions, most recently directed by Kamil Žiška, who received a prize at the festival Mateřinka 2013) or František Pavlíček´s Nightingale (1958). However, in the early 1960s the current staging practice of the ULD got exhausted and was often criticized for a degree of academic rigidity.
Minor yesterday and today
Foundation and the beginnings of the Theatre
The style of this period brought to the Central Puppet Theatre (ULD) a diversion from the binding canon of illusion. They started to use other types of puppets and marionettes and even the mask theatre was no exception. For example, in the staging of Bajaja (1963) black light theatre technique appears for the first time as used into plastic, embossed space. The staging of Král jelenem (1969) directed by Jiří Jaroš, was also a significant moment, the piece was conceived in the spirit of the Italian commedia dell’arte. A major staging contrasting the illusion style was done in Flíček Míček (1964), where actors leading the puppets were exposed to the audience, which was previously unthinkable.
In 1975 the renovated building of the Central Puppet Theatre (ULD) opened with the production Strakonický dudák and on this occasion the theatre was renamed to Divadlo Loutka (the Puppet). In the second half of the 1970s the distinctive style of staging of director Karel Brožek was created, he gravitated towards serious, impressively conceived topics, with an emphasis on the art and music element – e.g. Ze starých letopisů (by Ivan Olbracht, 1976)
The New Names of the Theatre
In 1987 the theatre was renamed to Divadlo U věže (Theatre at the Tower) and in 1988 the name was clarified as Divadlo U Jindrisske veze. Dramaturgy, among others, accented modern fairy tales – one of the most successful productions was known as A co strom, Palečku? (1985).
In 1991 the theatre received a new name again, this time it got its current name Minor – Divadlo herce a loutky (Theatre of Actors and Puppets), and under the guidance of director Karel Makonj focused on existentially and ethically minded topics (e.g. In 1990 the scenic composition inspired by the life and work of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry named Poutník hvězd (Pilgrim of Stars) and productions for adult audiences as well). An interesting dramaturgical event was the dramatization of J. R. R. Tolkien’s book – The Hobbit (1994) or the staging of Kdo mi to uvěří, pane Moody? (Who Shall Believe Me, Mr. Moody?) (1992). The meeting of actors and puppets on stage is anti-illusive and finally became common.
The New Director and Moving
Since October 1st, 1998 the theatre’s director is Ing. Zdenek Pecháček. The original theatre building in Senovážné Square was demolished due to the renovation of Slovanský dům (the Slavonic House) and after many twists and turns it relocated to a new address in 6 Vodičkova St. The new theatre scene opening took place on December 6th – 9th, 2001. The hall with a capacity of 206 spectators has the form of a classical proscenium stage, à l’italienne. (Note: The present capacity of the hall is 224 seats, thanks to the addition of outbuildings). It can be converted into a semi-arena or arena. Theatre Minor received the prestigious Building of the Year 2002 Award and the prize from the Mayor of Prague for creating a unique space for cultural activities for children with regard to the complexity of the reconstruction of the earlier devastated cinema Scout.
A new creative team declared its artistic intentions in Kouzelný zvon (The Magic Bell) (2000), directed by Aurel Klimt and art design by Martin Velíšek. In the context of contemporary Czech puppetry it became an original musical puppet experiment. A major part in the creating of a stylish contemporary theater poetics was Jan Jirků (e.g. Vánoce aneb Příběh o narození, 2002; Kabaret Tlukot a bubnování aneb Veliké putování, 2002; Bruncvík a lev, 2006 etc.). Among other important authors connected with Minor were the brothers Petr and Matěj Forman, or directors Jiří Adámek, David Drábek, Apolena Vynohradnyková (Novotná), Petr Vodička and more. From the season 2003/2004, is a dramaturge and author or co-author of some scenarios Petra Zámečníková (Zichová).
In 2005 the theatre began to play on Thursdays and Fridays from 18:00, which is relatively rare phenomenon in the Czech Republic. At the same time the Small scene in the first floor of the building is also opened. In the summer, theatre plays in the courtyard of the New Town Hall.
In 2001 the theatre also began a regular cooperation with the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre (by the DAMU in Prague). This mutually beneficial project facilitated students to get experience in their field of studies in collaboration with professional theatre, while providing Minor Theater with a conceptual development of contacts with the youngest creative generation. As a part of this work they put together a number of productions: Sedmero krkavců (The Seven Ravens), Song of Songs, Murder on the Orient Express, The Hole in the Wall, Sny o bizonech (Dreams of Buffaloes).
The theatre has participated in two international projects financed from EU funds. The Culture Alchemy project brought one of the most successful productions The Tale of Bruncvik and Lion. In October 2007, the International Fairy Tale Festival was held under the project LINGUA and a new piece The Goodies (directed by Jiří Havelka) was staged. We also visited Dublin in May 2008 with this play.
In December 2011, we opened the passage Minor, from which thanks to several structural modifications an expanded theatre foyer was created. Here you will find the Theatre shop, cashiers, Mama Coffee refreshments and the expanded gallery Minor, where our year-round interactive exhibitions are presented. The first one, Body Landscapes, was devoted to the human body. Its authors were Robert Smolík, Zuzana Vítková and Martin Janíček. Jakub Zich is the author of the many of the other exhibitions.
On the weekends the passage allows the theatre to develop other related activities for the whole family such as creative workshops for children.
In 2012, we have also finished the reconstruction of the large auditorium hall, where it is now possible to remove all the seats. This allows our directors to experiment a little bit more with space. It offers the option of gaining closer contact between the audience and the actors, and enables variable arrangements of the hall.
At the festival Skupa´s Pilsen 2003 our production “Voda čerstvosti” won awards for the best director, screenplay, design and music. This piece was created by our colleagues at the Alfa theatre in Pilsen: director Tomáš Dvořák, musician Jiří Koptík and dramaturgy Pavel Vašíček. The author of the play is Pavel Kalfus.
The production of Kabaret Tlukot a bubnování aneb velké putování (The Beat Cabaret of Drumming and the Great Wandering) won at the Mateřinka Festival 2003 (in Liberec) the prize for music (authors are Matěj Kroupa, Jan Matásek and Dalibor Mucha) and in 2002 Erik Award for the One Flew Over the Puppeteer’s Nest as the best puppet production.
At the Skupa´s Pilsen in 2004 Robert Smolík´s design for the production Lovci mamutů (The Mammoth Hunters) was awarded.
At the Mateřinka Festival 2005, Jan Matásek won the award for his music in our production About Thumbelina (O Malence)
And the Skupa´s Pilsen in 2006, Filip Jevič won the prize for his acting performance in the play Vinnetou, the Chief, or Happy Hunting Ground for Everybody.
The festival Mateřinka in 2007 brought us three awards for the production From the Jungle Book, the best director prize went to Jiri Adámek, Kristýna Täubelová won for the setting, and in that year for the first time awarded, the prize for the category Honourable Mention for Best Production for 5-7 year old children.
Kristýna Täubelová, the author of the production From the Jungle Book, won the Alfred Radok´s Award for 2007.
At Skupa´s Pilsen 2008, the production of The Tale of Bruncvik and Lion won four awards: Filip Jevič as the best actor, Dalibor Mucha and Tomáš Vychytil for best music, Petra Zámečníková and Jan Jirků for original dramaturgical concept, Robert Smolík for art direction (also honoured for his design of the production on Tibet – The Secret of the red box by the theatre group Cakes and Puppets)
In 2010 the production of the Jungle Book won the main prize at one of Europe’s most prestigious festivals of Puppetry in neighbouring Poland (Miedzynarodowe Festiwal Sztuki Lalkarskiej, Bielsko-Biala 2010) for “finding innovative ways to approach the youngest audience.”
At Skupa´s Pilsen 2010, the Hunt for Jednorozec – Lovestory of Lubos and Olinka won an award for music composed by Dalibor Mucha and Tomáš Vychytil.
At the festival Mateřinka 2011, Jan Matásek won a prize for his music in the production of My First Encyclopedia.
At the festival Mateřinka 2013, Kamil Žiška wins the awards for directing and music, and Robert Smolík a prize for the art design of the production Zlatovláska (Goldilocks).
The World Puppet Carnival 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia, the production From the Jungle Book receives the Award of Children’s Audience.
Theatre on tour
In the summer of 2003 and 2004 48 performances of Kabaret Tlukot a bubnování aneb velké putování (The Beat Cabaret of Drumming and the Great Wandering) took place in Seoul, South Korea. In May 2005, this production took part in the 5th International Puppet Festival (Festival Internacional Titerías) in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Viewers have watched our production From the Jungle Book in 2008, in Slovenia, Slovak (festival Bábkarská Bystrica) and in Japan in 2010, this was also successfully played in Poland (Miedzynarodowe Festiwal Sztuki Lalkarskiej Bielsko-Biala) and at the World Puppet Carnival 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In 2009 we went into the wide world with The Tale of Bruncvik and Lion – played in Helsinki, Finland and then we toured across the ocean in autumn. This piece was presented in Washington, DC and New York City.
Premieres since 2000
Kouzelný zvon (The Magic Bell), directed by Aurel Klimt
Rozum a štěstí (Reason and Happiness), directed by Margaret Schartová, Premiere on May 5th, 2000
O hloupé žirafě a nezbedných pelikánech (About Silly Giraffe and the Mischievous Pelicans), directed Doubravka Svobodová, the premiere on June 1st, 2000
Stařík a vlčice (The Old Man and She-wolf), directed by Evgeny Ibragimov, the premiere on July 1st, 2000
Voda čerstvosti (Water of Freshness), directed by Tomáš Dvořák, premiere December 17th, 2000
Mukaši, mukaši … aneb Bylo nebylo v Japonsku (Mukashi, Mukashi… Once upon the Time In Japan), directed by Karel Brožek, Premiere February 2nd, 2001
O hloupém Kubovi (Tale of Silly Kuba), directed by Jan Jirků, premiere 9. 5. 2001
Johannes doktor Faust (Johannes Faust, the Doctor), directed by Jiří Nekvasil, premiere July 12th, and 13th, 2001
Potkal klauna potkal kloun, directed by Pavel Polák, premiere November 2nd, 2001
Sedmero krkavců (The Seven Ravens), directed by Markéta Schartová, Premiere January 13th, 2002
Kabaret Tlukot bubnování (The Beat Cabaret of Drumming and the Great Wandering), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere February 23rd, 2002
Zvířátka a Petrovští (Farm Animals and the Robbers), directed by Vlado Štancel, premiere March 1st, 2002
Hurá do AFRIKY … Játyahoj (Africawards, Ho! … Youmeyo!), Directed by Petr Vodička, premiere March 24th, 2002
Cestou necestou aneb Šípková Růženka (Highways and Byways or The Sleeping Beauty), directed by Heda Bayer Čechová, Premiere May 23rd, 2002
Tam na poušti Kalahari (There in the Kalahari Desert), directed by Doubravka Svobodová, Premiere May 25th, 2002
Vánoce aneb Příběh o narození (Christmas or the Story of the Nativity), directed by Jan Jirků, premiere December 1st, 2002
Golem, directed by Akram Staněk, Premiere February 23rd, 2003
Pluto a Podkova (Pluto and the Horseshoe), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere May 25th, 2003
Lovci Mamutů (The Mammoth Hunters), directed by Marek Bečka, premiere October 5th, 2003
Karkulka červený balónek (Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Red Baloon), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere November 30th, 2003
UBU králem (UBU, the King), directed by Petr Vodička, premiere 2003
Kosmo – Velký Boj (Cosmo – the Big Bad Bohemian), directed by Petr Vodička, Premiere February 22nd, 2004
Píseň písní (The Song of Songs), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere May 16th, 2004
Cirkus harampádím, directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere October 24th, 2004
O Malence (About Thumbelina), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere November 14th, 2004
Čtyřlístek! directed by David Drábek, Premiere November 28th, 2004
Klapzubova jedenáctka (Chattertooth Eleven), directed by Petr Forman, premiere April 9th, 2005
Jak Mařenka a Boženka koukaly, directed by A. Vynohradnyková, premiere October 30th, 2005
Vinnetou aneb Věčná Loviště pro každého (Vinnetou, the Chief, or Happy Hunting Ground for Everybody), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere November 13th, 2005
Sněhurka – nová generace (Snow White – the New Generation), directed by David Drábek, Premiere February 26th, 2006
Bruncvík a lev (The Tale of Bruncvik and Lion), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere April 30th, 2006
Ostrov pokladů (Treasure Island), directed by Arnošt Goldflam, premiere May 14th, 2006
Lelek se nelekne, directed by Pavla Stancová, premiere October 4th, 2006
Vícezrnný koláček štěstí (Wholegrain Fortune Cookie), directed by Petr Vodička, Premiere October 22nd, 2006
Planeta opic (Planet of the Apes), directed by David Drábek, Premiere November 19th, 2006
Díra ve zdi (The Hole in the Wall), directed by Petra Tejnorová Petr Hašek, Premiere November 26th, 2006
Velké putování Vlase a Brady, directed by Apolena Vynohradnyková Premiere April 15th, 2007
Z knihy džunglí (From the Jungle Book), directed by Jiří Adámek, Premiere May 11th, 2007
Goodies, directed by Jiří Havelka, premiere October 18th, 2007
Neználek ve slunečním městě (Dunno in Sun City), Directed by Petr Vodička, Premiere November 25th, 2007
Psina, directed by Apolena Vynohradnyková, premiere December 9th, 2007
Popelka (Cinderella), directed by Apolena Vynohradnyková, premiere April 6th, 2008
Pojízdný lunapark Schworz (Mobile Funfair Schworz), directed by Petr Vodička, premiere June 8th, 2008
Nekonečně Nekonečný příběh (Eternal Never Ending Story), directed by SKUTR, Premiere October 12th, 2008
Pod hladinou ticha (Below the Surface of Silence), directed by Apolena Vynohradnyková, premiere December 7th, 2008
Tisíc a jedna noc (One Thousand and One Night), directed by: Jiří Adámek, Premiere April 19th, 2009
Bubny v Minoru (Drums in Minor), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere September 10th, 2009
Konžert (Confuncert), directed by Jiří Jelínek, premiere October 4th, 2009
Hon na jednorožce (Hunt for Jednorozec – Lovestory of Lubos and Olinka), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere November 15th, 2009
Moje První encyklopedie (My First Encyclopedia), directed by Jiří Adámek, Premiere March 28th, 2010
Hračky (Toys), directed by David Drábek, Premiere May 30th, 2010
Broučci (Fireflies), directed by Jan Jirků, premiere October 3rd, 2010
Zlatovláska (Goldilocks), directed by Kamil Žiška, Premiere March 13th, 2011
Válka profesora Klamma (Klamm´s War), directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere May 11th, 2011
O pejskovi kočičce (The Tales of Doggie and Moggie), directed by Eva Nosálková, Premiere May 29th, 2011
Cirkus Bude! (Will There Be a Circus?!) directed by Rostislav Novák, Premiere September 25th, 2011
Kocourkov – City of Fools, directed by Jan Jirků, Premiere October 21st, 2011
Můj atlas světa (My World Atlas), directed by Jiří Adámek, Premiere April 15th 2012
Ryba (Fish), directed by Martin Tichý, Premiera September 30th, 2012
Hansel and Gretel (aka Gingerbread House), directed by Jakub Vašíček, Premiere October 19th (Struny dětem Festival) and November 8th, 2012
Naše rodina (Our Family), directed by Braňo Holíček, Premiera March 25th, 2013
O Smolíčkovi (About Smolicek), directed by Eva Nosálková, Premiera September 15th, 2013
Jak kohouti obarvili svět (How Roosters Dyed the World), directed by Jakub Vašíček, Premiera January 12th, 2014
Zahrada (Through the Magic Gate), directed by Apolena Novotná, Premiera March 23th, 2014
Anežka chce tančit (Agnes wants to dance), directed by Jiří Jelínek, Premiera May 15th, 2014
Autobus (The Bus), directed by Apoelan Novotná, Premiera May 22th, 2014
Demokracie (Democracy), directed by Braňo Holiček, Premiera September 21th, 2014
BRUM (pro nejmenší medvědy), directed by Jiří Jelínek, Premiera November 27th, 2014
Mami, už tam budem? (Mom, Are We There Yet?), directed by Jiří Jelínek, Premiera March 15th, 2015
Libozvuky (Land of sounds), directed by Jiří Adámek, Premiere April 12th 2015
Robin Hood, directed by Lenka Vagnerová, Premiere September 20th 2015