Marionette Carving Workshop
3-min documentary on our Marionette Carving Workshop.
Students learn to design and make classic Czech marionettes on strings, or on wire and strings. Plus students learn basic aspects of manipulating different styles of marionettes and then make a short show with the newly-made puppets. This year the worskhop overlaps with the Prague Quadrennial International Scene Design Exhibition.
Description of workshop
Students work under different puppet masters to learn techniques of designing puppets, making technical drawings, woodcarving, painting, and designing a puppet costume, plus how to manipulate puppets and Czech puppet history. Students also visit exhibitions and theatre performances. At the end of the workshop students will create short performance with newly made puppets.
See photos of completed puppets made in our workshops! Each student will go home with an original hand-carved marionette - plus the skills to make more. All in a beautiful European city with a rich puppet tradition still very much alive.
The daily schedule is intensive: students work eight hours from 9,30 a.m. to 5,30 p.m., with morning sessions consisting of interactive lectures and afternoons for practical work. In the evenings, students visit puppeteers' studios, attend puppet theatre performances, and see the best of animated Czech puppet films. It also includes time at the Prague Quadernnial.
The workshop includes 11 days on puppet construction, 2 days on puppet manipulation and creating small puppet film. There will be days off during the workshop to see Prague and have a break.
Who is the course designed for?
It is an ideal opportunity for artists, theatre makers, puppeteers and teachers, who want to learn the craft of creating a wooden marionette. In the past, we have had students from Europe, America, Asia, Australia and Africa. Click here for Comments from former students.
Students will be selected on the basis of their experience, and all applicants should send photos or their work with the application. There will be maximum 12 students.
The price is 22,000 Czech Crowns (approx 950 USD, 850 Euro) for actual exchange rate see here.
Price includes all materials, local transportation costs, tickets to performances. To confirm place in the workshop, applicants must send a deposit (details will be sent upon acceptance).
The fee does NOT include accommodations during the workshop.
Accommodations with shared bathroom facilities can be arranged for participants in Pension Jana, a comfortable, clean hostel located in a residential area a five minute walk from the workshop. The price is about 400 Czech crowns (approx. 15 Euro/18 USD per night) for a double room, 600 Czech crowns (approx. 24 Euro/ 28 USD) for a single room (includes breakfast), or 380 Cz crowns for a triple room. For more informaton, go to the Pension Jana web site: www.dhotels.cz.
If participants prefer other accommodation, we can provide contacts to booking agencies in Prague.
Participants can cook meals in a small kitchen in the workshop or eat in local Czech restaurants (approx. 5 Euro for lunch).
Location of Workshop
The workshop of Miroslav Trejtnar, located ten minutes by tram 22 from the historical center of Prague in the Vrsovice neighborhood, on Holandska Street. See map and Street View
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The workshop is taught in English.
Leader of workshop.
Miroslav Trejtnar graduated with high honours from the puppet design department of the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. He has trained with Institut UNIMA in Charleville - Mezieres in France. In 1989 he started the KID Company, designing and producing wooden puppets, toys and sculpture.
Mirek's art has been exhibited around the world, including at several UNIMA festivals. He has designed puppets for numerous productions, including "The Baroque Opera" by the Forman Brothers. He has also produced puppets for the Jiri Trnka animated film studio in Prague.
Mirek has taught hundreds of students at Puppets in Prague workshops. He has also taught for the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, St. Martin’s College of Design in London, New York University in Prague, Chapito Circus Academy in Lisbon, Portugal, and in Macao and Hong Kong.
Carving and technology.
Zdar worked for the Jirí Trnka animated film studio at Barrandov studio in Prague for 20 years, and is now a freelance designer of puppets for film animation and theatre, as well as a graphic and furniture designer. He is one of Prague's leading experts in the technological design of puppets for animated films.
Vaclav is profesional puppet maker based in Prague. He has made puppets for numerous internationally known puppet companies and puppeteers. He now works as a freelance puppet maker and he has taught for many workshops with us.
Ondrej is puppet designer. He has worked on many theatre productions for numerous internationally known puppet companies and puppeteers as Forman brothers.
Robert is puppet woodcarver. He is now producing many beautiful puppets for shops and exhibitions.
Sota is a Japanese puppet maker based in Prague. He studied texitle at the Tokyo Art and Design University and puppet design at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He now works as a freelance puppet designer, and he has taught mask workshops at the Prague Quadrenniale. Sota also is a butoh perfomer.
Marcela is a professional puppet costume designer. She makes costumes and puppets for both Czech and international known puppet companies and puppeteers, as well as making textile puppets for television.
Dana currently studies the restoration of historical textiles. She has assisted on costume design for PIP puppet workshops for many years.
Svetlana is professional painter inspired by mexican art with many of her work published and exhibited.
Leah Gaffen is an Ameican who has lived in the Czech Republic for fifteen years. She founded the Puppets in Prague workshops with Mirek Trejtnar, and has worked with him as a producer for the course since then. She has also done production and translating work for the Prague Theatre Academy and numerous theatre education projects.
Comments from former students
I loved everything about the course - the wood carving skills, getting to hear about different styles of puppets, learning to make a puppet from start to finish, and the students, the teachers, and the puppet families that we visited!
I felt really honored to be working with a community of very talented and successful puppeteers - it gives a fuller picture of puppetry in the Czech Republic than if we just had one teacher.
The combination of teachers was excellent, all of them were very kind and professional and helped me have a closer "relationship" with my puppet.
I appreciated the holistic approach - I really learned about the "world" of puppetry, not just how to make one.
Seeing so many talents in Prague and feeling so much passion from students in the class and the lecturers and performers.
The teachers were fantastic. They were knowledgable, patient and were friends and colleagues. So the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.
The teachers are great and keen on teaching us.
Lots of exposure to puppets, puppet makers. Learning about what other students in the course are doing at home. Leaving with a finished piece.
I have been exposed to a new world of art.
Exposure to so many facets of puppetry through all the different speakers, instructors, field trips. I really liked the complete process of design to construction to performance.
This was a truly life-enriching experience, and I am leaving the workshops and all its talented instructors with all the inspriation and excitement necessary to pursue my puppet dreams.
I was generously treated to a full Czech puppet theatre experience! A well taught and exciting course.
The course was an ideal mix of culture, history, practicality, professionalism and pure enjoyment.
At the beginning of the course, a professional puppeteer helps students become familiar with different types and sizes of marionettes. Our goal is for students to understand basic operations of a marionette, as this helps them when they are designing their own puppet.
After the puppet manipulation lesson, students create technical drawings based on their own designs. Over the next few days, their drawings transform into square blocks with many holes and cuts. This is their future puppet. This first stage of the process includes much drilling and cutting. This is all done under the guidance of professional cutters and drillers!
With the help of the bandsaw, the first concrete shapes of heads, hands and bodies emerge. If they want to, students can learn to cut wood on the machine. During this stage of work, students learn the basics about machines in a puppet workshop and how to use them safely.
After the parts of the puppets are cut on the bandsaw, students start carving. During this stage, students learn about types of wood that are used for carving, about chisels, how to sharpen chisels and how to carve safely.
Student work on their own marionette during the workshop. At the same time they can watch how other students in the group are making marionettes with slightly different technical aspects. They can see different ways of making joints, connecting heads to bodies and different ways of connecting hands and legs to bodies.
Slowly the rough cubes turn into specific parts of the puppet. During carving, different parts are connected to make sure that the joints are cut so they can move well.
After checking the movement of the puppet, it is necessary to take it apart again for painting. This is the climactic part of the process - after painting, it is possible to put the puppet together again and see it come to life.
Before hanging the puppet on a controller, students can make a costume. Professional costume designers talk about how to make different parts of the puppet costumes and how to choose appropriate material.
One of the final parts of the process is creating the controller. A favorite part of the workshop is work on the lathe, where a rough piece of wood is transformed into an elegant handle. After finishing the controler the puppet is ready to be hung on strings.
A special lesson on stringing puppets teaches students how to find the right place on the puppet body to put the strings. Then they check the puppet's movement, making sure it can walk well and make other basic movements.
The final part of the worskhop is basic manipulation of the freshly carved marionettes. Students create a short, original performance which they think up themselves. A professional director helps the students put the piece together.
On the last day fo the workshop, an excited audience gets to see the premiere of the show and admire the courage and energy of the students. During the celebratory evening students receive certificates confirming that they have successfully completed the course.
The workshop also includes lessons about puppet history and visits to theatre performances and exhibitions.
Final look at the puppet, final lesson and... hop! into the bag. The puppets are ready to travel home with their masters.