& Leah Gaffen
Since 2000, we have offered courses and workshops in the art of puppet carving. Led by master puppet designer Mirek Trejtnar with American Leah Gaffen, we help our students understand the complexity and wonder of contemporary Czech puppetry. Our teaching team includes some of the best artists and craftspeople in Europe, giving our students first hand experience with the creativity and traditional roots of Czech puppet design.
Students from all over the world make marionettes with us, and then perform at Prague's most magical outdoor festivals. In addition to traditional Czech marionettes, we also offer classes in advanced puppet technology like break-away skeleton marionettes, moving eyes, automata and toy theatre construction. We provide opportunities to see puppet shows, visit museums, tour private puppet studios, visit the puppet department of the Prague Theatre Academy and go to screenings of stop motion puppet films.
Mirek is a graduate of the renowned MFA program for puppetry design at the Prague Theatre Academy. Expert woodcarver, his work can be found in London's Victoria & Albert Museum. He has designed puppets for numerous companies including the Forman Brothers Theatre. He started his puppet career in the 1980s at the Jiři Trnka Film Studio, working on internationally acclaimed films (including Jiri Barta's The Pied Piper). In 1990 he started the KID company producing toys, puppets, furniture and sculpture. His award-winning designs skirt the boundry between whimsical and surreal and have been exhibited at festivals and galleries around the world. He has taught at the Prague Theatre Academy, St. Martin's College (UK), New York University (Tisch Singapore), Aukland University (NZ), Macao and Hong Kong and UNIMA workshops around the world. In 2014 he made the animated documentary film "What to Tell the Kids" which was aired at the the 25th anniversary celebration of the Velvet Revolution. You can see some his work here.
Mirek and his wife Leah Gaffen led their first workshop at the Macao European Festival in 1998. That inspired them to organize their first workshop in Prague in 2000. A few years later they added puppet tours to the program so students could perform at Czech festivals, and since 2012 they have partnered with Prague's beloved Letni Letna Summer Festival. PIP has taught hundreds of workshops. Thanks to Mirek's extensive knowledge and expertise in puppet technology, they have taught some of the most complicated types of marionettes: dancers, trapeze artists, acrobats, animals, break-away skeletons, dragons. They also have taught workshops on puppets for stop motion and automata design. In 2019, Mirek took the workshops online, making his expertise accessible to people around the world. Mirek has written numerous articles for the Czech Puppeteer Magazine on puppet technology and is currently working on a book.
More about our Students
Our workshops cater to professionals and amateurs who are intrigued by the art of puppetry and willing to invest into learning from the experts. Our students include puppeteers, artists, university professors, scene and costume designers, graphic artists, teachers, actors, film animators, woodcarvers and writers from all over the world. Our workshop offers a unique experience and provides a space for our students to feel free to learn and explore their creativity. We welcome anyone with a passion for learning and a desire to create something special.
"Puppetry isn’t a novelty or fringe art in Prague. It’s deeply entwined with the Czech national identity."
New York Times
Carving & Technology
Zdar worked at the Jirí Trnka animated film studio (Prague) for 20 years. He is now a freelance designer of film and theatre puppets and a furniture designer. He is the a leading experts in the technological design of stop motion, which he has made for countless Czech and international productions.
Carving & Technology
Ondřej won the award for best Czech scene designer in 2003. He works extensively with the Forman Brothers, one of Europe's leading puppet companies. He has an MFA in puppet design from the Prague Academy of Performing Arts and studied woodcarving at Prague's Arts and Crafts High School.
Peter is the founder and artistic director of the LokVar Puppet Theatre, a company that performs for children and adults. He has an MFA in puppetry from the Prague Academy of Performing Arts and was a member of the award winning Dlouha Theatre Company.
Šarka is a professional illustrator, painter and designer. After graduating with an MFA from the Prague Academy of Arts and Crafts (UMPRUM), she worked in the Jiri Trnka Animated Film Studio on some of the most popular Czech puppet animated films. She has illustrated children's books, designed exhibitions, designed interiors of children's hospitals, cinemas and restaurants
Carving & Technology
Robert started out as a student at Puppets in Prague. He now carves puppets professionally with an avid following on Instagram!.