Bratislava Puppet Theatre, Bratislava, SLOVAKIA
Stories of Walls
directed by Katarína Aulitisová
Freedom – limits of freedom – unfreedom.
Director Katarína Aulitisová and artist Markéta Plachá tell the stories of a ruler, stranger, coward, border guard and a divorced couple’s son through an intriguing interplay of actors’ performances with original puppets and objects.
Stories of Walls earned the Grand Prix at Mascarada Festival in Poland and garnered many other awards at international puppet theatre festivals. Do children perceive borders the same way adults do? An imaginative mosaic of the gentle, humorous and rough forms obstacles take in human communication. Five stories about walls, barriers and borders built of fear – fear of other faiths, cultures, ownership and racial motivations – written by first-rate European authors, offering an unusual show for children and adults alike.
This play was inspired by an anthology of short stories by prominent European authors titled Stories of Walls, compiled by Michael Reynolds: Andrea Camillieri (The Man Who Feared People), Olga Tokarczuk (The Man Who Hated his Job), Heinrich Böll (Children are Civilians Too), Didier Daeninckx (Christmas Wall), Michael Reynolds (1969, 1989, 2009). Director Katarína Aulitisová is sensible, playful and inventive in conveying the stories’ themes to the child viewer, be it xenophobia, nationalism or populism.
Katarína Aulitisová, an experienced lecturer, actor and director, became artistic director at the Bratislava Puppet Theatre in August 2017. She is a long-time collaborator of artist Markéta Plachá, with whom she prepared a children’s TV show for Slovenská televízia in 2006, and continued at the Academy of Performing Arts, where they jointly created several puppet theatre and site specific projects. Their first theatrical production in 2011 was an adaptation of Miloš Macourek’s The Stuck Jacket at the Bratislava Puppet Theatre. Another of their productions that earned both critical and public acclaim was On Chicken’s Wings, an adaptation of Irena Brežná’s book of the same title, depicting the practices of the former communist regime. Markéta Plachá was nominated for the Dosky 2017 award for the production’s set design. Dramaturge Peter Galdík and Katarína Jánošová likewise contribute to the progressive direction of the Bratislava Puppet Theatre in its productions for both children and adults.
As director Katarína Aulitisová says: “The theatrical intention of Stories of Walls was to create a mosaic of different sorts of walls, barriers and boundaries, which people run up against in everyday life. From political through social to personal.”
Creation of spaces – real or imaginary, in which the human being is violently isolated by others, but also voluntary isolated by himself, without historical context. How do these barriers affect the individual? We follow the story of a person whose own, made-up fear led him into seclusion, the story of a military hospital guard who built himself personal invisible walls that barred him from becoming more human, the story of a ‘stranger’ whose difference separated him from others by an invisible boundary, the story of a border patrol who only felt happy when he overstepped the limits of the law, the story of a ruler who erected a big wall around his country and was ultimately killed by his own passion and convictions. The diverse, more or less complex stories play out against the backdrop of a short story about a wall built by a divorcing pair. A story about a child who has to live between such walls. Ultimately, moving past political and social boundaries, we reach what is most fundamental – communication with those that are nearest to us. This universal theme of communication makes the production universally accessible to audiences. Even the creators set the age limit at 12 to 99 years old.
Poetic scenes occupy the audience’s attention throughout the whole duration of the play. Continuous transformations of the variable set provide the creators with an interesting opportunity for creative and dynamic mise-en-scènes. Live sounds, rhythms and compositions by Fero Király created in the spirit of ‘sound art’ complement the individual stories’ atmosphere and simultaneously connect them. The actors are patient and precise in constructing the individual situations. Each narrates one story. When objects or puppets are involved, their teamwork allows a focused and well-coordinated performance.
The play has received the Grand Prix at the 10. International Puppet Theatre Festival Maskarada in Rzeszow, Poland (May 2019); at the 32. International Theatre Festival Walizka in Łomża (June 2019), it earned Katarína Aulitisová the title Best Director, Markéta Plachá the title Best Set Design and the Best Performance Audience Award for Ľubomír Piktor.
direction, adaptation: Katarína Aulitisová
concept: Katarína Aulitisová a Markéta Plachá
The production was based on stories from anthology Stories of Walls by Michael Reynolds
authors: Michael Reynolds, Andrea Camillieri, Olga Tokarczuk, Heinrich Böll, Didier Daeninckx
dramaturgy: Peter Galdík
set design, puppets, costumes: Markéta Plachá
music: Fero Király
cast: Anna Čonková, Jaroslava Hupková, Ľubomír Piktor, Lukáš Tandara, Peter Pavlík
The production was supported by Slovak Arts Council
Katarína Aulitisová (1964)
graduated in puppet theatre at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She has had many directorial engagements, mostly in theatres in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but also in Germany, Belgium and Slovenia, for instance in DRAK Theatre in Hradec Králové, in the State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava, in Aréna Theatre in Bratislava and at the Milan Sládek Pantomimentheater in Cologne. In 1990, she co-founded the independent Theatre PIKI with Ľubomír Piktor, and was involved in many interactive projects and festivals (Puppeteering Bystrica, Puppeteer’s Chrudim). In 1990 – 2009, she co-wrote the children’s TV show Elá hop, where she also performed.
Since 2012, she is a lecturer at the Puppeteering Department of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. She authored theatrical adaptations, plays and television screenplays, and also collaborates with the magazine Slovenka on stories about children’s rights.
For her activities at Theatre PIKI, she has earned over forty awards in acting, playwrighting, directing, creative achievement or most humane message. She represented Slovakia at the Slovak Culture Days in Canada and at Eurokids Festival in Washington, D.C.