Mon / 10 / 6 / 24
17:30 – 18:40

K. Spišák Old Theatre in Nitra
> Great Hall 

in Slovak and Czech with English surtitles

Suitable for adults and children aged 10+
Public Q&A with the production team is held after the performance.

Bratislava Puppet Theatre and Drak Theatre, Hradec Králové, SLOVAKIA AND CZECH REPUBLIC



directed by: Šimon Spišák and Jakub Vašíček

Two folk characters as symbols of two countries that are close to each other also because they are different in many ways. The Slovak Bratislava Puppet Theatre and the Czech Theatre Drak from Hradec Králové are coming to Divadelná Nitra with a joint production that is intended far from only for children. On the contrary, as it unites Slovak and Czech culture, it also creates space for a common experience for different generations.
On the one hand, there is Joker, an archetype that has its roots in servant figures in the comedies and farces of ancient Rome. A lower-class figure popular for centuries among the general populace precisely because he copes with his difficult fate through cunning and speculation. On the other hand, the Bandit, also a universal character. Whether named Robin Hood, William Tell or Jánošík, he always appears to cure injustice and stand up for the weak. The first is more associated with the urban environment, the second is characterised by dense forests and the mystery of magical nature. The production deliberately and with insight works with the most well-known clichés about the two countries that once formed the federation. The Nitra-based stage director Šimon Spišák and his Czech counterpart Jakub Vašíček used the two characters to play out a comic story on stage. About the Slovaks, who under the Tatra peaks are moved by their own folklore and with a shepherd’s axe called valashka in hand give room to more emotions than reason. About the Czechs, their socks in sandals and about the nature that combines the speculation of Švejk and the wisdom of the beetle Truhlík. And finally, it is about the view of young artists on the common past of Czechs and Slovaks and the separation that marked both nations.
The production featured at a number of festivals. In 2023 it received the 2023 Divadelní noviny Award in the category puppet and visual theatre. All this shows that the production is the most interesting piece that emerged on Slovak and Czech stages in 2023.

authors: Peter Galdík, Tomáš Jarkovský
direction: Šimon Spišák, Jakub Vašíček
set and puppets design: Karel Czech
puppets: Jiří Bareš, Roman Marek, Vladimír Sosna, Štěpán Uherka
costumes design: Tereza Vašíčková
music: Daniel Čámský
poems used in the performance: Orol vták (Janko Kráľ), Smrť Jánošíkova (Ján Botto), Kráľohoľská, Mor ho! (Samo Chalupka)
dramaturgy: Tomáš Jarkovský, Peter Galdík
cast: Frederika Kašiarová, Peter Pavlík/Ľuboš Janák, Ľubomír Piktor, Šimon Dohnálek, Milan Hajn, Pavla Lustyková

Šimon Spišák is an author, stage director and actor. He graduated in directing at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre of DAMU. He is a founding member of the Prague independent ensemble Lachende Bestien. After leaving The Karol Spišák Old Theatre in Nitra, he founded New Theatre there. He works in drama and puppet theatres in Slovakia (e.g. Puppet Theatre Žilina, Slovak National Theatre) and in the Czech Republic (Puppet Theatre Ostrava, DRAK Theatre in Hradec Králové, Lampion Theatre Kladno).

Jakub Vašíček has been the artistic director and general director of the DRAK Theatre in Hradec Králové since 2014. He is also author, musician, puppeteer and actor. He studied directing and dramaturgy at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre of DAMU. He focuses particularly on puppet and alternative theatre, theatre for children and youth, and street theatre. He has and still cooperates with, e.g. the Theatre Alfa, the Prague-based Theatre Minor, the South Bohemian Theatre, the D21 Theatre, the Slovenian LG Maribor. He is co-founder of the independent theatre Športniki.

On the facade of the portal of the marionette theatre stands the Czech–Slovak inscription “Puppets to themselves” with Slovak mountains or the picturesque Czech landscape appearing beneath on the painted backdrops. The appearance of marionettes and actors or their costumes refer to Slovak and Czech folklore traditions. Set designer Karel Czech thus created the concept of a classic puppet theatre, in which contemporary realities alternate with contemporary meanings. They play with the archetypes of both nations, the actors are given the liberty to insert small meaningful subtexts into the action.

Marek Godovič: Puppeteers to themselves or to everyone who is theirs. In: mloki.sk. Available at https://mloki.sk/loutkari-sebe-alebo-kazdemu-co-jeho-je/


The long title of the play reflects a group of Czech and Slovak puppeteers who share a sense of mutual belonging even after the division of the state, and who have achieved joint registration despite the division of the republic.

Jánošík, whom the common people perceive as the one who takes from the rich and gives to the poor, becomes a defining character in the play Gašparko and Zbojník (transl. note: aka Joker and Bandit), a theme emblematic of Slovak culture. It is logical that the authors of the play partially softened the Slovak character presented through the image of the bandit and tried to portray the character more plastically through the national revival the pathos of past centuries, which we encounter, albeit to a lesser extent, until today. The inclusion of revivalist and today’s pathetic-sounding poems (e.g. by Ján Botto, Samo Chalupka, etc.), as well as the wind-pipe fujara and folk attire, appropriately illustrated the Slovak conservative nature.

The essence of the comic figure’s survival has always been the effort to “serve” the wealthy master. Again, paradoxical and absurd – Kašpárek (transl. note: aka Czech version of the character Joker) joins the service of the bandit Juraj and his group. During the bandit’s oath, Kašpárek, in the spirit of his profiteering character, concludes that he has no problem taking from the rich, but states that he is also poor (hence, he, too should be given).

Ida Hledíková: About us gašpars and bandits. In: kød – konkrétne o divadle, 2023, 17/3, 26–31.