5. 2013 – 30. 4. 2015

For the last three years The Drak Theatre was participating in the EUROPEAN PUPPETRY KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE project (EPKE) with the support of the Culture program of European Union.

– LGL, Lutkovno gledališče Ljubljana, Slovenia
– NUKU, Eesti Riiklik Nukuteater (Estonian State Puppet Theatre), Estonia
– Divadlo Drak a Mezinárodní institut figurálního divadla, o. p. s., Czech Republic

The EPKE project was based on the sharing of experience in the area of the making of puppets. Its goal was to reduce the low effectiveness in the development of the puppeteer profession, caused in part by a lack of intergenerational and intercultural transfers of information. EPKE wanted to make the skills and knowledge of modern and traditional puppeteers available not only to puppet makers, but also to the professional public. Its priority was primarily the promotion of innovative ideas and approaches and the effort to simplify the access to the job market for young puppeteers. The cooperation was realised in organizing residencies, Seminars, creating of new theatre performances and Participation in partner’s theatre’s festivals.

The three cooperating theatres are recognised authorities in the area of puppet theatre and the production of puppets in their respective countries. Their three-year cooperation resulted in part in the creation of a network of contacts and common interests, which enables and motivates the sharing, cooperation and professional faculties even after the project ended.

Events in Drak Theatre

  • The Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart project (prolink 5)
  • Figurativity and interactive media in modern puppet theatre (prolink 4)
  • International Theatre of European Regions festival 2014 (prolink 3)
  • The Classic Marionette on a Wire (prolink 2)
  • Rezidence (prolink 1 )
  • Reflection of the EPKE project


Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart project

In the spring of 2015 Drak Theatre’s activity as part of EPKE culminated in the extensive multi-layered project inspired by J. A. Comenius’ work Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart. The project included a non-traditional production taking place throughout the entire theatre building and the adjacent Labyrinth, a blog seeking a connection between Comenius’ work and the city of Hradec Králové, a presentation by child actors examining the same themes through their own eyes and an international workshop falling under the concept of EPKE activities. For the period of the Theatre of European Regions festival 2015 there was also an exhibition reflecting whole the project. Plus the catalogue and the video of the project are currently being prepared.

  • Performance of Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart
    21 March – 17 April 2015

A theatrical miracle, the success of the month, the cultural event of the year – those are the accolades that appeared in the responses to the exceptional performance of Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart, which audiences could only visit over the course of five weeks from 21 March to 17 April 2015. The number of visitors was more than 100 percent, in less than a month the performance was seen by more than 2000 visitors – elementary and high school students and adult viewers.

The entire Drak Theatre building and the adjacent Labyrinth were transformed for this production, as parts of the performance took place at many places simultaneously. Audiences could move around freely in this imaginary world, just like the pilgrim in Comenius’ work, and they could gradually put together the pieces of the story. Thus each of the visitors experienced a slightly different performance.

The performance was meant primarily for adolescent children, who are at the age where heading out to the world on a pilgrimage and, looking for a role and place in society stands before them for the first time as a huge question mark and an important decision in their lives, which can influence their further development and direction.

They were able to experience the modern methods in person and to experience the diverse conditions and orders of the world, Fortuna castle and Paradise of the heart. Everyone could choose their own unique path through the Labyrinth with all its temptations, traps, dead ends and secret treasures. The performance offered young audience members an uncompromising look at today’s world of adults, tries to warn them against its pitfalls, to help them look and see, to recognise false signs and to not overlook true ones.

Drak Theatre chose a special performance method for this project, which was to make classical works available to audiences through interactive experiences and new media. It connects theatre, art installations, exhibitions and parlour games. It is based on the principle of “immersion theatre” that, unlike normal performances, assumes that the viewer is completely surrounded by the theatre action. The entire space around him can simultaneously be the stage and the auditorium. What the audience member experiences or sees in this space depends to a great extent on his own decisions.

Story and conception: Dominika Špalková, Tomáš Žižka, Ondrej Spišák

Director: Ondrej Spišák

Design: Tomáš Žižka

Costumes: Dragan Stojcevski

Music: DVA

Script and dramaturgy: Marie Nováková, Dominika Špalková

Cast: Lucie Bulisová, Tereza Dvořáčková, Anna Hrnečková, Dušan Hřebíček, Filip Huml, Jiří Kniha, Jiří Kohout, Václav Poul, Ján Sedal, Luděk Smadiš, Matija Solce, Jan Svoboda, Johana Vaňousová, Redy Vávra / Štěpán Lustyk, Jiří Vyšohlíd, Milan Žďárský

Media: Michal Kindernay, Lukáš Matejka, Jindřich Pavlíček

Dome: Martin Vadlejch, Lukáš Hadrava

Sound Master: Petr Vyšohlíd

Sound: Jiří Tulach

Lighting: Jan Čipčala, Filip Poskonka

Technicians: David Ledvinka, Pavel Černík, Roman Pěnička, Miloš Zlobický, Milan Steklíklík

Promotion: Natálie Barcalová, Barbora Kalinová

Produced by the Drak Theatre shops: Jiří Bareš, Tereza Dvořáčková, Michaela Kudelková, Štepán Uherka


Labyrinth of the World through the eyes of children – Mode: Comenius

At the same time as the aforementioned production, Drak Theatre also prepared a production created and acted by children in the age from nine to thirteen with the name Mode: Comenius. The performance shows the same themes, though through an essentially contrasting lens. It lets children show how they actually see the world of their parents and teachers.

The group of ten children worked on their version of Comenius’ work under the direction of Drak Theatre teacher Anna Hrnečková from October 2014. The children are the authors of most of the texts and they contributed to the design concept and the music. The premiere was 22 March 2015, i.e. a day before the premiere of the central performance of the project.

  • Blog:

A blog that informed about the progress in the rehearsals and the transformation of Drak Theatre in the form of an observational documentary was part of the project. At the same time the blog gradually brought diverse materials pursuing the connection between Comenius’ work and the city of Hradec Králové. It covers the spatial similarity of the Labyrinth’s illustrations and the city and it brings interviews with current representatives of social conditions described in the work, etc.


Figurativity and interactive media in modern puppet theatre

An international workshop as part of the EU Culture EPKE project

2 – 8 February 2015, Drak Theatre

The presentation methods applied in The Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart project are non-traditional not only in the Czech, but also in the European context of puppet and figurative theatre. Thus Drak Theatre decided to organise an international workshop with the title Figurativeness and Interactive Media in the Modern Puppet Theatre under the direction of MgA. Tomáš Žižka.

The goal of the workshop was to get to know new media and the possibilities of interaction in the area of modern puppet theatre. Figural and Figurative themes were examined with a focus on the characteristics of a real prototype and its transformation into a subsequent scenic form. The essence of the workshop was to seek and find a modern audiovisual theatre language and to present it to the audience.

The workshop took place from 2 to 8 February 2015 in the workshop of Drak Theatre. The participants were the actors engaged in the production of Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart and two representatives of Slovenia’s LGL Theatre, Zala Kalan and Nadja Ocepek. Unfortunately representatives of NUKU had to back out at the last moment due to illness. The participants attended a number of theoretical lectures about video art and new media in theatre, took part in practical experiments and joined the installation of interactive objects.


The Classic Marionette on a Wire

An international workshop as part of the EU Culture EPKE project

12 – 21 May 2014

The content of the workshop held in Drak Theatre was a practical introduction to the specific construction of classic marionettes that come from the Czech woodcarving tradition. Marionettes are usually known throughout the world as hanging on strings. The technique of hanging them on wires, which the workshop was dedicated to, allows distinct fluid movement for a puppet on a stage. This technology has been used extensively in many celebrated Drak Theatre productions.

It was significant for the initial rise of Czech puppetry that it came in the late baroque period, the poetics of which fundamentally supported the development of theatre. In the Czech lands, with a rich tradition of Baroque sculpture, the makers of the marionettes found an abundance of artistic specimens and it was mostly professionals that were already involved in the creation of marionettes from the beginning of the 19th century. They were often woodcutters that helped in the decoration of Baroque churches and monasteries and, when interest in sacral carvings declined, found not only a new field for their activities in the creation of marionettes, but also undoubtedly an artistic appeal. This contributed to the high artistic level of the marionettes, which were exceptional even in the context of European puppetry at the time.

In addition to a rich marionette tradition, East Bohemia also offers many unique examples of Baroque architecture and sculpture.

Representatives of both partner theatres participate in the workshop: Evelin Vassar and Andreas Josing (NUKU, Estonia), Zoran Srdič and Mitja Rotmanič (LGL, Slovenia) and DAMU student Tereza Sléhová.

In light of the connection between the marionette tradition and Baroque woodcutting, two trips were also held as part of the workshop for the participants to visit sites in and around Hradec Králové, where roots of the inspiration for the artistic craftsmanship of the carving of the puppets can be seen.


International Theatre of European Regions festival
21 – 30 June 2014

Visiting productions of partner theatres:
NUKU: Tale of the Tree Elves
LGL: Little Salamander Goes Across the Road

The international Theatre of European Regions festival is organised each year by Drak Theatre together with Klicperovo Theatre Hradec Králové. It is one of the biggest theatrical events in the Czech Republic. During the festival tens of thousands of visitors visit the city of Hradec Králové. Representatives of the professional public and theatre artists from home and abroad are also in attendance. In 2014 the festival included performances by both partner theatres.


Residency in Drak Theatre

24 February – 8 March 2014

At the turn of February and March 2014 Drak Theatre was host to the representatives of two partner theatres: Kelli Mark (NUKU, Estonia) and Zalu Kalan (LGL, Slovenia). Both participated in the preparation of Drak Theatre’s presentation of the Indian Fairy Tale. During the production of masks with an acoustic effect of making the actor’s voice louder, they learned the pasting method using a combination of paper mache and textiles.

They also visited historically important places connected primarily with East Bohemian wood carving and puppetry traditions and Baroque sculpture: The Puppetry Museum in Chrudim and Kuks Hospital.


Reflection of the EPKE project:

Drak Theatre performed all the planned activities, the employees of Drak Theatre participated in all the partner theatres’ planned events.

The employees of the theatre workshop have acquired new skills, have learned about new technologies for them, which they immediately applied in their work. The Drak Theatre artistic wood carvers shared their skills and knowledge directly connected with the local traditions of Eastern Bohemia. Drak Theatre received space to look for new possibilities of expression in current puppet theatre and applied the results of the research in the production of Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart. This very successful production contributed to the popularisation of puppet and figural theatre in the Czech Republic.

The EPKE project created a network of contacts and personal relationships that can be used in the future for mutual support and sharing. The detailed look at the daily operations of the partner theatres, learning about the organisation of work, the sharing of specific problem s and technologies, organizing productions, expositions, workshops, etc. were all exceedingly important for all the partners. It supported the awareness of cultural specifics of the partner countries and the spread of traditional technologies for the manufacturing of puppets. Instead of the potential competitive relations of the individual theatres, it supported their cooperation and the knowledge of a common goal – preserving puppet theatre as a living art form, which has an important and unmistakable place on the cultural map of Europe.

Benefit for artistic professions of Drak Theatre workshops:
Thanks to the participation in the workshops and residences the employees of Drak Theatre acquired new knowledge and skills that they already use in their work. The visit to the partner theatres and the local meeting with the foreign colleagues and instructors brought new impulses and inspiration as well as the opportunity to compare their professional situation and to see it in a new light. The creation of personal relationships among the employees of the shops from the partner theatres was also important and promises mutual support and consultation in the future.

Benefit for Drak Theatre:
Drak Theatre acquired space for the intensive research of figurativeness, new media and interactivity in the field of puppet theatre. Thanks to the production of Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart the audience range widened considerably and also received the attention of adult audiences, who often perceived puppet theatre as a theatre meant exclusively for children. The very positive acceptance by the professional public will be important for looking for the support of further research in the field of puppet and figural theatre. The project’s attention focused on the artistic professions of the theatre shops considerably helped the atmosphere in the collective of employees and their motivation for further work. Drak Theatre acquired important colleagues and consultants in the partner theatres.

Benefit for East Bohemian Region and its inhabitants:
It is an important benefit for the East Bohemian Region and the city of Hradec Králové to have an institution that spreads the tradition of Czech puppetry and also mediate current impulses from the European cultural scene. The production of Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart was an important cultural event in the region, with the total audience exceeding 2000 people. Individuals and schools from other regions came to the East Bohemian Region thanks to this production. Hosting the stays of theatre troupes and individuals from the partner countries supported the tourism of the region.

Benefit for the field of connecting art and education:
Drak Theatre has long been investigating the possibility of joining art and education, particularly in the field of puppet theatre. With regard to the EPKE project the benefit can be seen primarily in the development of the active watching habits of children and youth. Attention was given to the reactions of the performances with students through debates with teachers as part of the Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart project. In addition to the strong experience from a non-traditional performance, the reactions also showed the creation of a positive relationship to Drak Theatre and puppet theatre in general, of the profound knowledge of difficult literature, of the motivation of a new view of the world, the arousal of new questions and surprise from the possibilities that puppet and figurative theatre have and often do not use.

Benefit for the profession
Puppet theatre has a very strong tradition in the Czech Republic and Czech puppeteers are aware of their skills and renown. This self-confidence, however, can sometimes lead to their being closed to impulses from other countries. But in order for the field to remain lively and to speak to a modern audience in a modern language, international contacts are essential. As an important authority in the field of puppet theatre, Drak Theatre brought new impulses to all Czech puppetry thanks to the EPKE project, not only because it applied modern methods in its performances, but also because its efforts in research and holding international workshops and residencies can, in and of itself, be inspirational for other Czech theatres.

The Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart project also shifted the boundaries of Czech puppet theatres (among others) by being the first in the Czech Republic to use the method of immersive theatre in a puppet theatre project, moreover meant for children and youth.


With the support of the Culture programme of the European Union