18 January 2006

My Puppet Master - Honza Dvorak

The sad news is the passing of our dear puppet master and friend - puppeteer, director and honorary member of UNIMA, Jan Dvořák , in the Czech Republic on 16 January. I recently wrote an article, Tribute to a Czech Puppet Master, on the occassion of Honza's 80th birthday.

Dvořák can also be found at the roots of many famous theatre productions in the field of modern Czech puppetry. When Josef Skupa was still alive, Dvořák was one of the members of the Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre and was one of the initiators of the young group, Salamandr in this theatre. He later became director of the legendary DRAK Theatre, where he worked for many years, producing incredible puppet theatre, throughout Europe and around the world.

For several years, Dvořák was an excellent pedagogue at the puppet theatre academy in Prague, and worked as one of the first pedagogues in the International Puppetry Institute in Charleville Mézieres. He realised his first exhibit at the Museum of Puppet Culture in Chrudim, and was an indispensable lector of a series of seminars for amateur puppeteers. He is a superb technician, artist, author, designer and director, and has educated many of the Czech Republic’s finest puppeteers, as well as instructed pupils from countries such as Germany, Bulgaria, Norway, Canada and South Africa. All his students, friends and co-workers remember him as the initiator of several significant puppet theatre projects, such as the first international project after 1945 “Janošík”, where he united puppet theatres from Czechoslovakia and Poland. Honza will be sadly missed by his family, friends and the entire world of puppetry!