Every nation has got characters of puppets,
got something, it is the soul of a nation. For example I tell you I am from Bohemia and
during Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czech language, Bohemian, the Czech language was prohibited,
because we were part of the empire. So everyone in cities spoke German, some very badly but
pretended to speak German. So Czech language was slowly dying, no books in Czech language,
nothing, soul was dying, soul was completely dying.
And what happened, some people decided to do something about it. They carved puppets,
wooden puppets and started to play the story about for peasants and did it in Czech language.
They used to play Shakespeare, ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ and all this stuff. And all in
Czech language and in the middle of it, was Kašpárek, a little jester. Kašpárek always
used to made jokes about Franz Joseph the Second, Emperor and one day he said some nasty
jokes about the Emperor and the police came along and said, “Come on, I will lock you
up because you made jokes about our superior, about Emperor”
and the puppeteer used to say, “It’s not me it’s the little wooden one! Lock him
up.” And later on they started (writing) ordinary drama and books but puppets started
everything. Puppets, they saved our language from extinction, completely.
Puppets are the combination of performing, visual arts and music and all these things
you have to master before you start puppet theatre. If you are a puppeteer you have to
comprehend not just acting but how to manipulate puppets. Make people believe it, they are
alive and can do sometimes better things than actors. When an actor comes on the stage and
puts his leg like this on the stage, nothing. But if puppets do it, people laugh. That is
the magic of puppets. Puppets in Thailand, for example in Thailand,
Thai dancers actually they copy puppets’ movements. Puppet theatre in Indonesia is a separate
thing, is a huge culture. Wayang Orang is ordinary people with make up and headdresses
on and later on they go to Kulit, the puppets made from buffalo skin. These puppets are
actually religious puppets. It means the shadows of the past. The soul of the nation, same
like in the Czech Republic, they are the soul of the nation. That is what puppets mean.