Puppets in Prague

Puppets may be creepy, but I still like them. You know who else likes puppets? Czechs. The Czech Republic has a long, storied history of puppetry. That’s why every year in late May/early June, the city of Prague hosts the World Festival of Puppet Art.

For those lucky enough to be in my favorite city between May 31 and June 6, this festival looks like a must-see. It has everything you’d expect from a festival of puppet art. Puppet contests, puppet films, puppet makers, puppet performances, puppet buyers, puppet spectators. It’s all things puppet. You can probably even make a puppet, I don’t know.

They give out all kinds of awards, including Award for Modern Puppet Dramaturgy, Award for Innovation in Puppetry, and Award for Visual Effects in Puppet Theatre. I bet there’s some mind-blowing stuff there. Have you ever seen a really top-of-the-line puppet show? Or at least Being John Malkovich? You can do some crazy things with puppets.

The Czechs’ puppetry tradition, especially their distinct style of marionettes, has earned them their own section in the Wikipedia article about puppets. Apparently, Czech marionettes are quite complex. They often have extra strings to control the mouth or ears, making them more interesting to watch, but also more difficult to manipulate for the puppeteer. And some Czech marionettes don't have the customary central rod, which again makes them more realistic but harder to control.

I can’t find any video highlights from past World Festivals of Puppet Art, but here’s a puppet playing guitar on Charles Bridge in Prague. He’s good.

Photo: THEfunkyman via Flickr (CC license)

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