In a small and narrow path of Vilnius’ city centre, just behind the old town hall, is located a cosy puppet theatre, the only one in town and the largest one of the nation. This theatre was officially opened after World War II in late 1958. It was founded mainly through the efforts and perseverance of Balys Lukošius who wanted to see realized his dream of having in Lithuania an official puppet theatre.
In fact, this theatre is a real laboratory continuously into action to offer a diverse and always up to date programming. During our interesting walk the artistic director explained me that the company has a repertoire of thirty works and that it is renewed every year with an average of 3-4 new scripts, depending of course from specifics commitments. The company, in fact, is traveling and takes its shows around Europe and the world and at the same time it is home for foreigners companies, as well.
The program includes shows for adults and children inspired not only by traditional fairy tales but also over the great classics of Lithuanian and global literature without considering the works of experimental and conceptual acting likewise presented by the Theatre. Even in the stairwell you can breath art’s air that exudes from the hundreds of old show’s billboards attached at the walls. The first floor is the beating heart of the whole structure. It hosts a real laboratory of ideas and creativity in which the characters come true, where the puppets come to life. The staffs of the theatre was carefully pointing out that all the dolls are entirely made in these rooms with several materials, from clay to plaster, from papier-mâché to fabric. Even the costumes of the actors are the result of the work of the 56 employees of the theatre.
After a quick visit to the dressing room, where some players were preparing themselves for the next show, we went back to the hall while I was still fascinated by those places that stimulate the imagination of everyone, even the most cynical of the journalists would feel rapt by this environment.
Additionally, you probably do not know that the “Lele” Theatre in Vilnius hosts within it an extraordinary museum of puppets. The museum is born from the desire to don’t leave to collect dust or even throw in the garbage all the work dedicated to the creation of the puppets. The museum is, of course, only a small part of the total amount of dolls anyway considered the best and the most valuable between thousand pieces.
Inside the museum are preserved the first three historical puppets presented at the universal expo by who is actually considered the father of professional Lithuanian puppetry. Stasys Ušinskas, this his name, directed and produced a movie about his creations playing in a show that was shown at Hollywood and that let him earn a patent for the design’s technique of his puppets, hand built, probably rudimental but terribly expressive. The exhibition continues in the name of ancient masks, puppets and antique scenery’s pieces. Most famous fairy tale characters are made real in those rooms to the amazement of children and adults who admire the puppets.
Be carried away by the imagination is an ageless privilege. This is the perfect place in which adults and children can be overwhelmed by it.