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St. Petersburg marks the World Day of Puppetry

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Today marks the World Day of Puppetry. The holiday is relatively young – this would 11th time it is celebrated. That is despite the history of puppets going back as far as BC era. Alexandra Lee reports about what could at first seem as soulless puppets, those who make them alive and those who are in charge of the magic of the theatre.

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Young Herman is 5,5 years old. But today he will become 50 minutes older. Craft, cunningness and even sarcasm – together with colorful puppet characters – will storm into his childhood. Good thing those are imaginary ones yet.

This is what’s concealed from children’s eyes. Inside the workshop of the puppet theatre 2nd year faculty students are making the shod bar – this is the skeleton of a puppet, which enables control over a marionette. Here, artist’s sketches turn into real blueprints and details. Students invent plays, decorations and characters by themselves. A puppeteer must be able to do everything. 

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “With all this seeming easiness, it is far from child’s play. And a lot depends on how well the group has gelled with each other. It helps this ship to sail on time and this kite to fly”

All this comes with time, but a true love for puppets – this is something one is born with. 

Marina Neumoina, 5th year student: “Here’s an umbrella I made with my own hands, but the most important thing here is the hat! It’s beautiful”

Everyone here, with no exceptions, plays dolls. 

Alexander Stavisskiy, head of faculty at puppet theatre school: “Well, you can say it’s an adult child. We do play, but it’s a serious game. A small group of puppeteers – of three men – makes a theatre. And they can stage absolutely different plays – from Shakespeare to “Peer Gynt”. And that’s exactly what we’re doing now at the theatre”.

Italy is considered to be the birthplace of marionettes. But even ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks and ancient Chinese set plays with puppets. In modern history, Sergey Obraztsov was one of the first to put a puppet and a puppeteer on the same level.

Faina Ivanovna has been working at the “Demmini” theatre for 54 years. Like a child – she keeps chattering all the time and boasts certain puppets: here is Petrushka, which the founder of the theatre used to play, here is one of the first roles. She fondly keeps her childhood impression of a puppet theatre in her heart. 

Faina Koskina, actor of the puppet theatre, renowned actor of Russia: “I was first of all impressed with puppets-marionettes which were almost alive. They showed rage and sparked compassion when walking the rope. I even stood on a chair to get a better view!”

Young Herman also stands on his chair. Impressing the noisiest rascals is the sweetest reward and a huge deal of work. Modern puppet theatres have a great competition in computers, tablets and movies. It only takes a touch to see this show. But once a puppeteer’s hand touches the puppet, this spectator sincerely believes it. 

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “Is this a mean puppet or a kind one?”

Herman Misharin, spectator at the puppet theatre: “A kind one!”

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “Why do you think so?”

Herman Misharin, spectator at the puppet theatre: “Because I saw it”

And once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget. A puppet theatre is the kids’ world. And no matter whether you are 5 or over 50. 

 

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