Puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia
Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Puppet theatre for communities in Slovakia and Czechia is not only a popular form of traditional entertainment but also a way of conveying a vision of the world, and an educational tool with messages on moral values. The puppets, whose characters are real or imaginary, are mostly made of wood and animated using various methods. Initial bearers of the practice were families of travelling puppeteers whose works later absorbed local influences in language and themes using namely comical figures with distinct characteristics. Puppet theatre is an integral part of Slovak and Czech local theatre and literary tradition. It also plays an important role in socialization, helping performers to develop as creative thinkers and learn about cooperation, communication and to strengthen their sense of identity in society. Featuring with other traditional rituals and festive events like feast days, markets and fairs, puppet shows today come in many different forms but still draw from tradition. Practice bearers include performers, playwrights, puppet and costume makers, as well as stage designers. Skills are transmitted by imitation and practice within performer communities, while in Slovakia also transmission takes place in traditional puppetry dynasties, as well as through workshops run by not-for-profit organizations and music and arts schools.