Internationaler Tag des Puppenspiels am 21. März 2016

Am 2. Januar 2016 starb Professor Jurkowski. Dieser für die internationale Puppenszene so wichtige Künstler war eine beeindruckende Persönlichkeit als Lehrer, Forscher, Theaterkritiker und Antropologe. Er widmete sein Leben der Kunst des Puppenspiels. Freude und Bewunderer hatte er in der ganzen Welt.
Um in seinem Geist zu wirken beschloss die internationale UNIMA für den Internationalen Tag des Puppenspiels 2016 den Text zu nutzen, den er in unvergleichlicher Art für den selben Tag im Jahr 2011 schrieb:

International Message for the World Puppetry Day March 21st, 2016
by Henryk Jurkowski

Here I am, in the town of Omsk in Western Siberia. I enter the ethnographic museum where my eyes are immediately drawn to the great display case where dozens of figures – idols of the Ugrofine tribes, the Menses and the Chantes, are to be seen. They seem to greet every visitor. My instinct moves me to respond and I greet them in return. They are magnificent. They represent a surviving trace of the spirituality of generations of primitive humanity. They and their imaginary world are at the root of the first manifestations and images of theatre, both sacred and profane.

Art collections are overflowing with idols and sacred figures which little by little fade from memory. But in the museums there are also puppets which even now guard the imprint of the hands of their creators and manipulators. In other words, these puppets retain traces of human dexterity, fantasy and spirituality. Puppet collections exist on every continent and in almost every country, the pride of their collectors. They constitute important sites for research, guarding vital memories while bringing important proof of the diversity of our discipline.

Art, as with many other human activities, is subject to two tendencies: unification and differentiation. Today we see the co-existence of the two tendencies in cultural activities. We clearly observe how easy it is to travel, in the air or via the internet, which multiplies the number of contacts we make in the various congresses and festivals, leading to greater unification. Soon we will indeed live in the global village of McLuhan.

This state of things does not mean that we have completely lost our feeling for cultural differences, rather that a great number of theatre companies will henceforward use similar means of expression. Styles of puppetry such as the ningyo joruri of Japan and the wayang of Indonesia have been assimilated both in Europe and America. At the same time groups from Asia and Africa are using European puppet techniques.

My friends tell me that if a young Japanese artist can become a virtuoso player of Chopin, so an American can become a master of /joruri /or a dalang performing /wayang purwa. I would agree with them, on condition that the puppeteer assimilates not simply the technique but also the culture associated with it.

Many artists have been satisfied with the exterior beauty of a puppet which nevertheless holds for the spectator the potential for discovering other forms of art. In this way the puppet invades new territories. Even within the actors‘ theatre, it has become the source of many metaphors.

The widespread presence of the ancient figurative puppet is now linked to a movement in inverse proportion to the territory it occupied before. This is due to the invasion of the object and, on an even bigger scale, to everything related to matter. Because every object, all matter, when animated, speaks to us, each demanding its right to a theatre life. Thus from now on the object will replace the figurative puppet, opening a pathway for the artist which leads to a new poetic language, to creations full of rich and dynamic images.

The imagery and the metaphors which were once characteristic of each type of puppet, distinguishing the one from the other, have today become a source of expression for each individual puppeteer. Thus we have a new single, poetic language depending not on a generic tradition but on the talent of the artist and his or her individual creativity. Unification of the means of expression has given rise to differentiation. The global village of McLuhan has become its antipodes. The various means of expression have become the instruments of an individual language which always prefers original solutions. Of course, the tradition of the figurative puppet has not disappeared over the horizon. Let us hope that it will always remain as a valuable point of reference.

Henryk Jurkowski – 2011


International Message from Behrooz Gharibpour for the World Puppetry Day 2015

I was ten years old when I saw my first traditional puppet show. I was ten years old when I fell in love with „Mubarak“, a love which has lasted through more than half a century and still occupies my whole mind and being.
I was twenty years old when compelled by this love, I searched every alley and street of Tehran to find the old, weary and worn out performers, and bring them back to life and into artistic circles and university art classes, with the hope that others would fall in love with my idols.
At the time, I imagined I was the only such lover in the world, but soon I realized that I was not and travelled to every corner of the world in order to discover the global fascination with puppetry, meeting admirers of puppet theatre everywhere from Italy, to the UK, India, China, Russia, US, France, Germany, and elsewhere.

I was ecstatic to discover that not only I was not alone and was instead only one among millions of others who loved puppetry, but also that „Mubarak“ is only one among tens of puppets that, for centuries, used comedy and sarcasm to instill hope and put smiles on the faces of men, women, and children who were too often gripped by fear and pain in a world that is full of war, poverty, violence, and destitute.

However, it did not take long for me to realize that my colleagues of the wider community of theatrical arts, looked down on puppetry with contempt, and regarded themselves and their stature too high to be a part of its world.
This was when I became intent on defending my beloved, as a warrior would defend a treasure, and to surrender my life to it and the unknown.
It was in this period that I grew increasingly appreciative of puppetry as a language as vast and deeply rooted as our age-old capacity for joy and sorrow, melancholy and happiness. I realized that every puppet is a symbolic representation of the world around us, and a reflection of every person who has lived before us.

This was when I came to fully appreciate why Omar Khayyam, the eminent Persian philosopher, mathematician, and poet-identified the world of man with a puppet performance in his brilliant quatrain:

We are the puppets and fate the puppeteer
This is not a metaphor, but a truth sincere
On this stage, fate for sometime our moves steer
Into the chest of non-existence, one by one disappear.

Behind the shadow drape are me and thee
But when drape shall fall ,me and thee will be dim.

ln my travels, reading and in conversation with other lovers of puppet theatre, it has become increasingly clear to me that the meaning of puppetry manifests with a diversity of forms and flavors in the minds of the various performers in each corner of the world, from that of Chikamatsu Monzaemon, to temple performers, and Sicilian artists, to the imagination and language of the Dhalangs in Indonesia, and from the perspective of the various directors and performers across the globe.

Thus, I came to firmly believe that we can use this thousand year old language of puppetry to critically perceive the world around us, and in doing so draw larger audiences to attend to and fall in love with this ancient art-form.

I hold the deep conviction that the discovery of puppetry has had as much of a transformative effect as the discovery of the wheel, and has been at least as effective in helping to reduce the distances and the communicational rifts between us.
This is perhaps because even a deeply philosophical puppet play has the ability to awaken an element of childhood in the audiences‘ consciousness, with which they are emancipated from the illusions of age and time, and discover a fantastical world where objects made of wood and other inanimate materials come to life.
Perhaps the biggest responsibility of any artist in the field of puppetry, regardless of their language, citizenship or background, is to awaken this „child“ in the hearts of the millions of fellow human beings who have polluted our world with blood and violence.
Puppetry and us, the admirers of this treasured relic from our ancestors, are thus responsible to help reduce the evil and animosity in our human family, and help remind people of childhood, its joys, and its wonderful dreams …
Today is for those who awaken the child within us, the day for all those who love puppetry from the heart:

Happy world puppetry day.
Behrooz Gharibpour

Behrooz Gharibpour was born in Sanandadj (center of Iranian Kurdistan) September 19th, 1950.
He has activity in Theatre when he was 14 years old and he continued yet now.
He studied in Iran: Tehran University, Faculty of Art-Theatre department (1970-1974) and in Italy: Accademia d´Arte Drammatica Silvio d´Amico (1977-1979).
Behrooz Gharibpour acuities to hold in many different areas but all of those were and are in one direction: extension of cultural space in Iran: as designer and manager.
Founding permanent Children Theatre (Centre of Theatre and Puppet Theatre for Children & Young Adult) 1980.
Changing Tehran’s Slaughter House to Bahman Cultural Center, 1991.
Changing the ex-Head Quarter of Army to Iranian Artists Forum, 2000.
Changing ex workshop to permanent Marionette Opera House: Ferdowsi Hall, 2002.
Changing the ex-House of one of famous actor: Entezami, to Museum of Theatre, 2014.
Behrooz Gharibpour after more than four decades of his artistic life and different National and International Position and getting International awards and Directing many huge Theatre group as like as „Les Misérables“ of Victor Hugo, Uncle Tom Cabin of Harriet Beecher Stowe and so on, focused on puppet theatre again very seriously and found greatest puppet Theatre Group: Aran Puppet Theatre company and parallel created National Opera based on Iranian Music.

Behrooz Gharibpour during 10 years of this dicision put at stage: Rostam & Sohrab, Macbeth, Ashura, Rumi, Hafez,Layli va Majnoon and …
Behrooz Gharibpour, Latest predestinates are Honorary Doctor of University of Theatre & Cinema of Georgia – Tbilisi 2013 and Cavalier (Chevalier) from Italy 2015.
UNIMA thanks Mani Hamidi for translation from Farsi, Idoya Otegui for the Spanish translation and Fabrice Guilliot for the French one.