Puppets Are Our Export
We Attract Audiences with Quality
JUDr. Jarmila Hájková has been the CEO of Ostrava Puppet Theatre
(Divadlo loutek Ostrava) since 1991 (except a period between
2002-2004). The theatre has gone through radical changes
under her management, including moving into the new building
in Černá louka in 1999. In 2011, the new theatre was extended
with a modern building with an alternative stage, amphitheatre,
and café. In 1995, she stood at the beginning of the international
puppet festival Spectaculo Interesse.
Ms Hájková, your theatre has a great
history. What is its future?
The theatre continuously transforms in
time. The present modern puppet theatre
absorbs modern technologies: visual
projections, technologies of stage lighting,
sound reproduction. But even in the age
of these modern technologies, the greatest
magic dwells in the unrepeatable moment
when what is happening on stage is the
here-and-now of a live actor with a puppet,
with another actor in direct interaction, in
close dialogue with the audience. These
are features which can never be replaced
with technology no matter how smart, and
which we dearly cherish in our production:
whatever happens on stage must always
communicate with the audience.
a najít něco, co diváka osloví, není vždy
Při posledním Mistrovství světa juniorů
v hokeji v Ostravě si k vám našla cestu i kanadská hokejová reprezentace.
Je to obvyklé?
Obvyklé to určitě není, je to až neuvěřitelný příběh. Když jsem dostala první mail on
nějakého Kanaďana, myslela jsem si, že
jde o klasický spam. Z další komunikace
jsme ale zjistili, že jakýsi John Bruce jezdí
se skupinou mladých hokejistů a snaží se
jim udělat ve městě, kam jedou hrát, co
nejzajímavější program. A protože v Kanadě loutkářství nemá tradici jako v České republice, chtěl jim toto umění ukázat. Naši
herci připravili speciální prohlídku divadla,
zákulisí, loutek a zpětná vazba byla úžasná. Pro všechny to byl obrovský zážitek.
A Kanaďané pak celý turnaj vyhráli, třeba
na tom máme taky drobnou zásluhu.
Děkujeme Vám za rozhovor.
Your theatre represents one of the city’s
best exports. Where are you taking your
puppets in 2020?
This year we are going on a few trips
abroad. First, we will go to Mexico with our
production of “Fie, It Is Fie!” (Fuj je to!) at
the end of March. The story is text-based,
therefore since autumn our actors have
been busy learning their roles in Spanish.
Mr Karel Růžička, the actor playing the
main character, a dog named Haryk, has to
learn 19 pages of Spanish text. Fortunately,
the actors will tax the work once again
in the autumn of 2020 when the same
performance will be staged in Bilbao in
Spain. We are negotiating another staging at
a festival in Greece which will be interpreted
simultaneously so Haryk will not have to
What about local activities? How do local
and foreign audiences respond to the
Spectaculo Interesse festival?
We do our best to attract Czech and
foreign audiences with excellent quality:
we invite the best representatives of the
puppet world, introduce new directions
and developments in our field in the sense
of multimedia technologies as well as
“ordinary” traditional puppet theatre made
and performed at the highest artistic level of
the story and the puppets.
We put a cherry on top of each cake,
a very special treat with each and every
festival to attract a large audience. In
2017, the German company DU UND DU
brought their giant lighted puppets to
Trojhalí Karolina (Triple Hall Karolina). In
2019, we invited Formans’ Theatre who
built a big top accommodating 500 people
in Černá louka, and sold out five shows,
which is a fantastic signal that the people
of Ostrava are interested in our festival. At
the same time, we must pay respect to our
competitors in cultural events in Ostrava
who make the task of finding something
truly attractive a significant challenge.
During the last World Junior Championship
in ice hockey in Ostrava, the Canadian
team paid you a visit. Is that usual?
It is very unusual. The story actually sounds
most improbable. When I first received
an email from a Canadian, I just thought
it was typical spam. However, further
communication confirmed that a John
Bruce would accompany the team of young
players trying to make their stay in the cities
where they were playing as interesting as
possible. Puppeteers and puppet theatres
in Canada do not have the tradition
a Czech puppet theatre has, so he wanted
to introduce them to this art. Our actors
prepared a special walkthrough of our
theatre, backstage, among puppets, and the
feedback was fantastic. It was a beautiful
experience for everyone. The Canadians
won the championship, and our theatre
might have contributed to their positive
Thank you for the interview.
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