Monday, 11 October 2010

A Puppet Show

A couple of roughly turned blocks with painted faces, a rudimentary set, a knack for telling a great story, and of course a percussionist to make all the right cartoon noises at crucial moments - that's the essence of the puppeteer's art. And that was certainly more than enough to keep these children entertained for a good hour or so during Saturday's Vršovice Fair.

As readers will know who have visited Prague, the place is alive with puppetry. In the Old Town, marionettes dangle from every other shop-front - thousands of Mozarts, Pinocchios and Charlie Chaplins, supplemented these days by several differently-sized Harry Potters of course.

A few years ago Michael Frayn made the brilliant observation in a BBC documentary called 'Magic Lantern' that puppets and Prague were inextricably linked. He gave as examples the Golem, a mud-man fashioned by a 16th-century rabbi to guard the ghetto, the robots invented by the Čapek brothers for the play R.U.R., and - and this was the most telling bit - the communist leaders themselves (whose bodies, bizarrely, were preserved in all their puppet-like waxiness in the mausoleum on Žižkov Hill).

By the way, if anyone knows where I can get a copy of that film, I would seriously love to get my hands on one. I've tried the Beeb, with no success. Perhaps someone could pull a few strings?

2 comments:

Chuckeroon said...

Nice to see yr comment on RuT, Alex. Yes, the tonal difference is there. Glad you liked it. I was in two minds but decided it added something worthwhile to the 17th Century setting.

Great to see yr images of Prague; a city I got to know very well in the 70s-80s.....lightyears away from today!!!!!

Jilly said...

Have always been fascinated by puppets and remember now seeing marionettes in the Old Town. A lovely post.

Good to see my ol' buddy Chuckeroon here.

Jilly x

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