The Naive Theatre Liberec was established in 1949, and it was one of the first professional puppet theatres in the former Czechoslovakia. Even though its production has naturally taken various directions, it has, for the last seventy years remained in the minds of the audience as well as professionals as the Czech puppet theatre of an excellent quality.
The Naive Theatre Liberec has currently had no own director but they work with a wide range of authors. It focuses on the production of puppet or art performances for children and youth, and also emphasizes the original author work.
Now, the Naive Theatre performs more than 300 performances per year for approximately 50,000 spectators in the Czech Republic and abroad.
The Naive Theatre Liberec is located in the very city centre, a few dozen meters from the Liberec Town Hall. The streets of the North Bohemian capital come alive every two years with the Mateřinka Festival, which the Naive Theatre has been organizing since the 1970s. This international festival is the only one in Central Europe which focuses on puppet productions for pre-school children.
History of Naive Theatre Liberec
The Naive Theatre Liberec was established in 1949, and it was one of the first professional puppet theatres in the former Czechoslovakia. Even though its production has naturally taken various directions, it has, for the last sixty years remained in the minds of the audience as well as professionals as the Czech puppet theatre of an excellent quality.
The theatre’s early period peaked in 1959 with a play The Secret of the Golden Key by E. Borisová with J. Filipi as the director and with A. Mytysková as stage designer. From the beginning of sixties, when F. Sokol came as a director and consequently under the work of J. Schmid, a director and stage designer, performances put on by the Naive Theatre went beyond a mere narration; and aimed at evoking children’s fantasies, expanding own imagination and teamwork. Among the most popular and successful productions of this period were The Treasures of an Old Bat, The Frowner by L. Dvorský (1963) and Pranksters by O. Augusta (1968) with J. Schmid being the director and stage designer for both shows. His name was (and still is) also connected with the activities of STUDIO YPSILON, the other group of the theatre's artists which was active part of the Naive Theatre during the years 1968-1978.
At the end of the seventies and during the eighties, the delicately fragile poetry of puns present in children’s shows directed by P. Polák had crystallized and provided the impetus for organizing the festival MATERINKAwhich is held in the City of Liberec. Mateřinka, the Festival of Professional Puppet Theatres with performances for pre-school age children is well known in the whole puppetry world.
K. Čukovsky's performance Entanglement (1974) and two shows by J. Vodňanský, A Crayon Going for a Walk and When a Clown was Met by a Clown (1981) are, among many others, the most known shows of that era. It was the set designer P. Kalfus together with the director P. Polák who contributed immensely to the production of these shows.
After the Studio Ypsilon move to Prague, it was the directrice M. Schartová who enchanted the young and adult audiences and made them laugh with her style that combined music with a comedy; her shows were characterized by emphasizing a joyous aspect of a given theme. Among many other performances produced during this period belong adaptations of works from the middle ages Devoted Love of Aucassin and Nicolette (1981, stage design by P. Kalfus), Turandot, the Cruel Woman by I. Peřinová (1982, stage design by P. Kalfus); further, the show From the Life of Insects by I. Peřinová (1989, stage design by J. Milfajt) was also produced during this decade.
From the beginning of the nineties, S. Doubrava has been the director of the Naive Theatre. The theatre has no permanent director and collaborates with visiting professionals from other puppet and drama play theatres. In its artistic endeavors, the theatre has drawn on its own group of experienced actors, and above all, on I. Peřinová's original creations. In the nineties, some of the most successful performances put on by the Naive Theatre of Liberec have been those by the author I. Peřinová. They were put together by a hosting team of artists: T. Dvořák as a director; I. Nesveda as a stage designer; and J. Koptík who composed the music. These performances included The Headless Knight (1993), Alibaba and Forty Thieves (1994), Alína alias Petřín in Another Part of the World (1996) and The Animal Theatre (1999) which had its first night on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Naive Theatre.
The performance of The Tempest (2002) by Shakespeare, produced by M. Dočekal, director of the National Theatre in Prague, and P. Matásek, the renowned stage designer, has been a significant event in the period after 2000. With this production, the creators continued in their cooperation with the Naive Theatre of Liberec that began with the work on Czech classical poetry in the production of K. J. Erben's Kytice (The Bouquet) (1998). The Tempest was successfully accepted at the World UNIMA festival held on the occasion of the UNIMA Congress in Rijeka, Croatia (2004) and also at the International Puppet festival, Jonquiére, in Quebec, Canada.
The team led by T. Dvořák which staged (again in strictly illusive lines) I. Peřinová's play The Handsome First Fireman or the National Theatre Fire (2005), has contributed to the 55th anniversary of the Naive Theatreof Liberec. The Handsome First Fireman belongs according to reviewers to the most valued productions in the history of the Naive Theatre of Liberec; the author was nominated for Alfred Radok Awards and it was broadcast in the Czech television and performed on the stage of historical building of the National Theatre in Prague. Five years later the same team successfully created the puppetry interpretation of famous Tschaikovski ballet under name The Little Swan Lake.
Besides experienced directors, the Naive Theatre increasingly invites young, often fledgling directors (J. Jirků, M. Tichý, A. Renč, P. Vodička, J. Vašíček etc.); some of them repeatedly return to the Naive Theatre Liberec. In 2004 -2008 P. Vodička staged a triptych of awarded comedies with historic themes (the Price of Festival The Czech Theatre Award for the production Tristan and Isolda).
Originally stage designed performance directed by M.Tichý, The Fairy-Tail about Raška brought to The Naive Theatre Liberec two awards of Materinka festival and also the award ERIK-for the best puppet show in the Czech Republic in season 2008/2009.
In the new millenium the Naive theatre have often been praised for its "actress directors", M. Homolová and M. Sýkorová. Together with the new drama adviser V. Peřina, who replaced I. Peřinová in 2003, they have been instrumental in the revival of the theatre studio space (a successful text collage of the works of the Czech poet I. Wernisch … and Other Bedřich...).
Very successful has also been the collaboration between the director M. Homolová and the writer and dramaturg V. Peřina, who have been working on productions for the youngest of audiences (Graphic Soup (2005), Cook, Pot, Cook! (2007) and many more). Their 2012 production of Budulínek has been – apart from other awards and nominations – awarded the best Czech puppet production of the year. Equally successful was another piece created by this team About the Lamb that Fell From The Sky (2014). Nonverbal production made for children as young as 2 years old was also nominated for the best production of the year at the Critics Awards, which was an enormous success considering the competition of all drama theatres in the Czech Republic. M. Homolová ś studio performance Bohemia lies by the Sea (2016), has been recently awarded The ERIK Award for the most inspirational Czech puppet show of the year and also Divadelní noviny Award 2016. All three productions (especially the universally comprehensible About the Lamb...) have been invited to multiple prestigious Czech and international puppet festivals, in which Naive Theatre Liberec often takes part.
The productions have been introduced not only in Europe, but also in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, USA, Canada, Mexico, India, Israel, Korea or Pakistan.
From the beginning of the 1990s, until the end of 2020, Stanislav Doubrava was a long-term director of the Naive Theater Liberec.
Since 2021, Kateřina Pavlů has been the new director and Michaela Homolová the artistic director.