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Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre
in "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom"

Puppet play weaves Czech, Slovak and Italian fairy tales.
Added attraction for Saturday matinees, "The Winter Tales," is
a solo puppet show of wizards, maidens and spirits.


In this puppet play, based on three Czech and Slovak fairy tales, the youngest brother of a family is turned into a deer. The audience will vote on whether he can be freed from the spell. Ben Watts as the brother.

"Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" is a puppet play written and directed by Vit Horejs which weaves Czech fairy tales into a play for four puppeteers and an ensemble of antique Czech puppets. A charcoal burner's son, predestined by his fairy godmother to marry a princess, is sent by his angered father-in-law King on a quest for the sun's three golden hairs in hope that the young man will perish. Resolving three more difficult tasks along the way, he returns with rich rewards. Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., will present the work February 16 to March 5, 2017.

Vit Horejs with Plavacek puppet.

Accompanying the production, on Saturdays at 3:00 PM (Feb. 18 & 25, March 4), Vit Horejs will perform "The Winter Tales," a play for one puppeteer based on three Czech fairy tales, replete with mountain wizards, clever village maidens and spirits. Its running time is :55 and critics are invited to all performances.

Both productions are recommended for theatergoers of all ages, but "The Winter Tales" is scheduled for Saturday matinees in order to be especially convenient for younger audiences (4 to 104).

Vit Horejs, founder of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater, attributes much of his theatrical orientation to the drama of fairy tales his Czech grandmother told him. Folksy and wise, Aesopian and Grimm-like, they provide a rich trove of source material for Puppet Theater. Horejs' approach, though, it not to simply enact the stories, but to mix-and-match them in new and sometimes intrepid combinations. These projects are devised to adapt a selection of his grandmother's tales into material for his ensemble of antique Czech puppets, the core of which were found in a closet at the Jan Hus Church on East 74th Street in 1990.

In "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom," two fairy tales will be framed by an unresolved mystery of a youngest brother who is turned into a deer. At the end of the play, the audience will vote to decide whether he will be freed from his spell or condemned to hibernate for the next four years. (The vote is not rigged, this time.) The actor/puppeteers are Deborah Beshaw-Farrell, Michelle Beshaw, Vit Horejs and Ben Watts. Music will be a capella Czech folk songs. The set, by Roman Hladik, is built from spiraling coils of forest vines.

L: Michelle Beshaw with Queen puppet, R: Deborah Beshaw-Farrell with Princess puppet.


In "The Winter Tales," the fairy tales are: "The Snow Maiden Snehurka," in which a childless couple find a little girl in a winter blizzard; "The Twelve Months," in which an orphaned girl is sent to fetch strawberries from the forest in the middle of a blizzard and meets twelve kind men representing the twelve months, and "Salt Over Gold," a Czech version of the Slovak tale that is staged in "Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom."

Childless couple from a Czech Snow Maiden tale, part of "The Winter Tales."



February 16 to March 5, 2017
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (betw. 9th & 10th Streets, East Village)
Presented by Theater for the New City
Box office (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net
"Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Wisdom" plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM; $15 general admission, $8 kids. Recommended for ages 5 to 105. Runs 1:20.
"The Winter Tales" plays Saturdays at 3:00 PM; $12 adults, $8 kids. Recommended for ages 4 to 104. Running time 55 minutes.



The occasion of The Dark Lady Players' performance of "Shakespeare's Anti-Christian satires: The Virgin Mary Parodies" gave us the opportunity to investigate how Elizabethan Meta-Theater could be enacted with contemporary puppet theater.

So we asked John Hudson, the theorist and dramaturg of The Dark Lady Players, to illuminate the possibilities. We learned, in short, that all puppetry is metatheatrical but not all metatheater is puppetry.



PUPPETRY WITH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE -- Theater for the New City hosted a panel entitled "Puppetry with a Social Conscience" on December 11, 2008. Some of New York's leading puppet theater artists discussed how our world is reflected in the eyes of the Puppet.

Panelists included Peter Schumann, head of Bread and Puppet Theater; Vit Horejs, head of the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater; Jane Catherine Shaw, co-artistic director of the Voice 4 Vision Puppet Festival; John Bell, theater journalist and puppet theater artist; and Eileen Blumenthal, author of "Puppetry: A World History," an authoritative book on puppet theater. The event was moderated by Crystal Field, Executive Director of Theater for the New City.

Listen to an audio recording of
"Puppetry with a Social Conscience"

If you navigate away from this page, this flash recording will stop. But you can listen to the recording while you browse: click here to play through your computer's media player. (Download time: five minutes) © Copyright 2008 Theater for the New City. All rights reserved--no commercial use or reproduction without permission.

Our slide show begins with photos from "Puppetry with a Social Conscience" and continues with selected photos of productions that participated in the Passport to Puppet Theater (precursor to this website) between 2005 and 2008. Photos by Jonathan Slaff.


About this website: NYpuppets.com is a successor to the Passport to Puppet Theater (2005-2008), which was a program sponsored by The Linux Loft and supported by the Jim Henson Foundation.

Presenters: If you would like to propose an offering for an upcoming puppet theater production for this page, contact us at: NYpuppets "at" acedsl.com. Describe your project and give us your contact info. Be creative! Offerings can include discount ticket offers, invitations to special previews and openings, meetings with artists (actors, directors, etc.) and much more. Visit out FAQ's.


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