Unknown Wrocław: Where puppets sleep

The Wrocław Puppet Theatre has a collection of almost 1,000 puppets and props. Every season the big puppet family is joined by new members – this year, among others, by big wooden animals designed by the sculptor Józef Wilkoń, which perform in the show "What does a crocodile eat for dinner?".

Where are the princesses, dragons, shoemakers, angels and Herods – puppets from the Wrocław Puppet Theatre that have left the stage? You can see them in the storeroom near ul. Długa.

Puppets for the Wrocław Puppet Theatre (Wrocławski Teatr Lalek) have been designed by top artists, such as Eugeniusz Get-Stankiewicz or Jadwiga Mydlarska-Kowal. The storeroom contains the latter’s puppets that performed in "The Trial" based on the same novel by Franz Kafka from 1985 and slightly younger figures from "Gyubal Wahazar" by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz. Not far from them we can find Herod’s figure designed by Get-Stankiewicz, which performed in “The Mystery of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. Apart from them, we can see saints’ figures by Jerzy Chodurski, the Shoemaker Dratewka by Kazimierz Samołyk, big-breasted dolls by Get-Stankiewicz that performed in "The Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea", or protagonists of “The Abduction in Tiutiurlistan” designed by Adam Kilian.

Bajkobus shortly before the season

Another object waiting in the storeroom for the start of the season is the Bajkobus (Fairy Bus) – the mobile stage of the Wrocław Puppet Theatre. It won the award of the Marshal of the Lower Silesia Province for the Most Important Theatrical Artistic Event in 2008 and was nominated for the Innowator 2008 award. In 2010, the Bajkobus won the 3rd place in „Hits of the Decade – Poland” – a contest organised by Gazeta Wrocławska. It was there that the youngest inhabitants of Wrocław had an opportunity to watch the adventures of the Mammoth found in a block of ice from Antarctica in a Wrocław iceman’s cart. The Mammoth is unique, because it resembles an animal with a hairy trunk at the front and a bicycle at the back. Thanks to this construction, the actor could animate this huge puppet. On the stage of the Bajkobus, you can also see Wrocław legends, because the Bajkobus takes its spectators to a walk across Wrocław. Spectators could watch, for example, a legend of a young apprentice who wanted to marry a goldsmith’s daughter, but her father did not consent to this – the poor boy wanted to become rich quickly and became a robber – or hear a story of penitents from the Witches Bridge. After an encounter with the witch Tekla, who was punished with the sweeping of the Witches Bridge on the tower of St. Mary Magdalene Church (Kościół św. Marii Magdaleny) for the rest of her life, many children began tidying up their rooms.

Another popular figure that appeared in the Bajkobus stage was Gulliver, who visited the Land of Giants last season. His ship was moored at the Oder river, not far from the Grunwaldzki Bridge. Gulliver is a world-famous traveller – the smaller man of the world, not bigger than a dwarf. Gulliver calls inhabitants of Wrocław the Giants, and the city itself is defined by him as the Land of the Giants. Soon, i.e. on the 25th of May, the Bajkobus will appear on the streets of Wrocław again.Upcoming shows: "The sinner’s bell and the Witch from the Bridge" (25.05.2014, 2:00 p.m. / Słodowa Island, 31.05.2014, 11:30 a.m. / Staszic Park), "Gulliver in the Land of the Giants" (6.06.2014 6:00 p.m. / Dream Night at the ZOO).

Life in the backstage

The puppets that still perform wait for their part in a show in the props room behind the big stage of the Puppet Theatre.

You can meet here Emil, the main protagonist of a children’s book by Astrid Lindgren. The fair-haired rascal designed by Dariusz Pranas hangs on a special stand and only waits to make up another prank. In the wicker basket we can see the dreaming Thumbelina animated by Anna Kramarczyk in Wiesław Hejna’s show with a colourful fairy stage design by Beata Fertała. There are also some animals hiding under stands, including a cat, a dog and a baboon carved from separate wood pieces by Józef Wilkoń. The animals perform in the show “What does the crocodile eat for dinner?" directed by Jarosław Kilian.

You can accidentally face huge insects that play the main parts in "What’s going on in the grass". The protagonists of this show are insects: butterflies, a spider, a beetle, a stick insect or a cockroach, who fight in the defence of their Meadow against the dangerous Tractor. The puppets were designed by Michał Dracz, and the show is directed by Radosław Kasiukiewicz. Apart from that, you can meet oriental warriors from “The beautiful and the beast” directed by Aleksander Maksymiak, who is also responsible for stage design.

There are lots of puppets here. The good form and the attractive appearance of all of them is guaranteed by Tomasz Cichoń and Rafał Królikowski.

Agnieszka Kołodyńska