The magic of puppets

The puppet theater ‘Nykštukas’ (Dwarf) in Kaunas, Lithuania is a family, mobile, repertoire type theater which shows a number of plays dedicated to children audience. Darius Armanavicius was here for PUN International Puppet Festival .

What’s your earliest memory of being interested in puppetry?

When I was in kindergarten - we got a trip to a state puppet theatre where for the first time I saw a puppet play. Another memory is this - on television there was a program where it showed how to create your own puppet theatre from scratch. It showed how to tailor puppets from socks, so I took my younger brothers knitted sock and made my first puppet. Back then I thought if it is shown on T.V. - then it's possible for me to make puppets as well.

How did “Nykštukas ” come about?

At the beginning this theatre was a after school, extra curriculum children puppet theatre club. My teacher brought me there. It had no name at the time, it was just a puppet theatre club. This was in the year 1982. We won many contests. Back then when a club wins many contests it gets an official national name for the club. This club was the first ever childrens puppet theatre club that received the privilege of getting an official national name. Everyone was picking a name in the club and they decided it will be "Nykštukas" (Dwarf). At the age of 19 the clubs leaders and founders left the puppet theatre club to me. Since 1990 we reformed the theatre club in to a full, professional, official, touring family theatre. Currently today we have 18 plays. This format hasn't changed since then.

It appears puppetry has a timeless, magical appeal for audiences of all ages. Why do you think that is?

First - in a puppet theatre you can show all and every possible dream any human can imagine and all of those dreams are born in childhood. Those same dreams lead you throughout your entire life. Second - a performer or puppeteer can bring life to the non living, just like a God. This is the magic appeal of puppet theatre that audiences of all ages see, feel and understand.

From conceptualization of the show to creating the puppets, scripting– what is the creative process like? 

Every play has it's own creative process and it's always different. But I don't start to do anything until I see a clear, final vision in my mind. Sometimes it starts from the music composition, sometimes from the puppet crafting, sometimes scriptwriting or maybe just scenography... every process is never the same.

Do you have a particular philosophy or goal when designing the puppets?

Yes. The philosophy is this - every puppet has to be able to express a specific dramaturgical character according to the plays script.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of your job?

The biggest challenge in this job is to make the eyes for the puppet. That is because the eyes are a mirror of the soul.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into puppetry professionally?

If you have the wish to create a miracle and with it astonish the audience, the people - you can try. But YOU MUST create EVERYTHING from BEGGINING to END by yourself and only YOURSELF.

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