Kyiv’s principal children’s puppet theater has decided to broaden its audience base. It recently staged a play for families, entitled Lisova Pisnia (Forest Song) by Lesia Ukrainka, and only adults were sitting in the hall last week.
The tradition of staging plays for different age categories is not new to the theater, but a few years the company had to scale back its repertoire because it did not have its own building and was knocking around Kyiv. But two years have passed since the Puppet Theater held its house-warming to celebrate the real palace granted to the theater by the Municipal State Administration.
Thirty-three children’s plays are on the theater’s playbill at the moment, and in February its repertoire was supplemented by The Decameron and Lisova Pisnia. However, those who have been coming to this theater for a long time will remember that this is not the first time that Giovanni Boccaccio’s legendary heroes have appeared on the stage of the Puppet Theater. In 1980 Yurii Sikal staged a play called Love, Love, and puppets from that play have been kept as souvenirs ever since and are on display in the theater museum.
The theater director has not simply revived The Decameron but given it a new interpretation and introduced additional characters: the Author (V. Huk) and Patron (Y. Ohorodny,) who intrude into the plot, debating with each other, commenting on the action, and supplementing it. The resulting production is synthetic, one in which the actors and puppets are equal partners. Besides professional actors (L. Mikhnia, S. Churkin, Y. Khetchikov, L. Yasynovska, Y. Farafonov) the production features students from the Puppet Department of the Karpenko-Kary National University of Theater, Cinema, and Television. The music was composed by Yurii Shevchenko, lyrics are by Anatolii Navrotsky, the set designer is Mykola Danko, and the choreographer — Oksana Shevchenko. The staging was impressive, dynamic, funny, and merry.
The Puppet Theater will mark its 80th anniversary in October 2007. The collective is planning to hold a Puppet Theater Festival and to stage new plays. The Divine Comedy will be for grown-ups, while children will get to see their favorite fairytales.