Databáze českého amatérského divadla
Texty: Dr. Jan Malík: His Life and Contributions to Czech Puppet Theatre Nina Malíková
Dr. Jan Malík: His Life and Contributions to Czech Puppet Theatre – Nina Malíková
(Autor: Don Nixon, Rubrika: News)
Biography of Dr. Jan Malík, an important personality in the world of Czech puppetry
Dr. Jan Malík (b. 1904, d. 1980) was a Czech puppeteer, director, author of puppet theatre plays, theoretician and historian of puppet theatre, editor and pedagogue. He graduated in classical philosophy studies (1930) from Charles University in Prague. During his years as a student, he occupied himself with puppet theatre, first as a puppet theatre actor in the Sokol puppet theatre in Prague-Libeň, later, from the beginning of the thirties, as an author, director and organizer in the puppet theatre movement. During this time, the artistic creativity in his work had permeated with an effort for theoretical and historical knowledge of puppet theatre. As one of several contemporary puppeteers, he was able to accurately analyze the problems of the current state of puppeteering and consider the direction of its further development in terms of its concept. He understood puppet theatre as a specific kind of theatre with its own laws. However, due to his skill and overview in terms of the development of Czech and world theatre, he emphasized the integrated nature of the puppet theatre into theatre as a whole. Enlightened by the development of modern drama, he also strove to fundamentally strengthen the role of the director in puppet theatre. He tried to realize his views especially in the performance work of the Prague Art Puppet Stage (Pražská umělecká loutková scéna), which he founded in 1939. He wrote a number of plays for children of which the most successful was Rolly Polly (Míček – Flíček) (1936), which has been translated into many foreign languages. With its construction, it met half way the associative perception of the smallest child. During the Nazi occupation, he wrote three plays for J. Skupa's puppet theatre The Bells (Voničky, 1940), Long Live the Future (Ať žije zítřek, 1941), Today and Every Day, Miracles (Dnes a dennì zázraky, 1942) which spoke in the language of allegories and symbols to the Czech audience.
Even before the end of the war, Malík had prepared plans for a new organization for Czech puppeteering, and at the end of the war he had completely devoted himself to this aim. He strove primarily for the creation of a network of state professional puppet theatres all across the country. In 1948 he was entrusted with establishing the Central Puppet Theatre (Ústřední loutkové divadlo) in Prague and its branches in Brno, Liberec, Kladno and České Budějovice. As a manager (1949-66) and stage director (1949-71) of this theatre, he imprinted the stamp of his personality both on this theatre and the entire area of Czech puppeteering during the fifties and the sixties. As a dramaturg, he supported original work and dedicated himself to the drama arrangements and translations of puppet theatre plays. He strove to assert a model of puppet staging that communicated the knowledge of basic moral values to the juvenile spectators through a high level of visual artistry and poetic speech. He was inspired by Soviet puppet theatre and following the example of S. Obrazcov, he introduced bottom-controlled Wayang puppets into the staging practices of Czech puppet theatres. Glodilocks (Zlatovláska, 1952) by J. Kainar, belonged especially among the significant directorial efforts of this period. He was the co-founder of the puppet theatre department at AMU (Academy of Fine Arts) in Prague where he lectured on directing theory and the history of the puppet theatre. From the sixties, he dealt more intensely with historical research. In 1963 he published a monograph devoted to J. Skupa: Smiles of the Wooden Thalia (Úsměvy dřevené Thálie) and he summarized his aesthetic views in the publication The World of Puppets (Svět loutek, 1978). He published the magazine Puppet Scene (Loutková scéna, 1940-41, 1945-50) and several editions of puppet theatre plays. In 1933 he was elected general secretary of UNIMA and in this function, which he held until 1972, he gained significant recognition for the postwar revitalization of its activities. In 1972 he was nominated as the Honorary Chairman of UNIMA.
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