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Bóbita Puppet Theatre

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Important events

(detail)1905 | Construction of the building in Mária Street
The new seat of the Charitative Women Association in Pécs was designed and built by the famous local architect Andor Pilch, in Eclectic style. The domed building was built in the place of two demolished residencial houses in Baroque stlye.  
(detail)1961 | Founding of the Bóbita Puppet Theatre

(detail)1981 | Reconstruction of the building
The puppet theatre moved to the large hall in a newly furbished stage and auditorium.
(detail)29.01.2011 | The Puppet Theatre Moves to the Zsolnai District

People

Árpád Weiler |architect

History

Bóbita – The Puppet Company in Pécs

The Bóbita Puppet Theatre in Pécs was founded by Lajos Kós in 1961, which worked as an “amateur” theatre until 1981. In this year the Bóbita became the second professional puppet theatre in Hungary. Kós, trained in fine arts, approached puppet theatre mostly from a visual arts perspective, in the initial years he was the both the designer and manufacturer of the puppets used in their theatre, as well as the director of the shows. The company first acquired national fame with their participation in the “Ki mit tud?” national all arts talent contest. Their production, based on hand pantomime, made them the winners of the 1965 contest, followed by two consecutive first prizes also in 1968 and 1972. Next to the extensive performances made for children, the company also had a regular adult programme: Kós designed and directed several versions of for instance Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle or The Pictures of an Exhibition. Next to the very creative usage of the actors’ hand (bare or covered by glove puppets), which has become his hallmark, Kós was also very conscious about the music he based his shows on: for instance for his puppet rendering of the Kalevala he used the music of Pink Floyd, as he was looking for a musical atmosphere beyond space and time. As a theatre teacher, Kós trained a generation of puppet actors which still forms the backbone of the Hungarian puppetry today. The Bóbita became a fully independent institution in 2004 (previously belonging to the Pécs National Theatre), performing about 200 shows a year and about premiering a yearly 3-4 new shows. The importance of the puppet scene of Pécs is also enhanced by the biannual International Adult Puppet Festival organized in the city.     

 

The old building of the puppet theatre

The domed building in Mária street, which hosted the puppet theatre from the 1961 founding up to the end of 2010, was built by Andor Pilch, a famous local architect who has also designed public statues in Pécs. The building, situated right in the city centre, one block away from the main street, was commissioned and used by the Pécs Charitative Women Association (Pécsi Jótékony Nőegylet), in the eclectic style characteristic of the era. The costs of the construction were covered partly by donations and to the biggest extent by the champagne factory owner József Littke. As the seat of the women association a public kitchen, feeding 500 people in need, worked in the building and also kindergarten. After the end of WWII it was used by the army officers for various purposes, while in 1952 the dr. Doktor Sándor Culture House moved in. The L-shaped ballroom was used in the sixties for dance events and performances of literary theatre. The puppet theatre first worked in a small hall in the basement, furnished humbly by Kós and the company itself.

Following the 1968-69 refurbishment the puppet theatre could move up from the basement to the club hall. Larger renovations were only carried out in 1981, when the company finally received a properly equipped auditorium in the place of the former ballroom. The architects of the Transdanubian Design Company (Árpád Weiler, Diány Békefi Meskóné, Éva Scherer and János Wunderlich) furbished an auditorium with 206 seats, with raked tiers built on a light steel structure, and a 100-seat chamber hall. In 1999 a small puppet museum was also opened on the premises. On 29 January 2011 the new puppet theatre in the Zsolnai Cultural Centre was opened, hosting the company of Bóbita from now on. The completely renovated old factory building hosts a large hall named after Lajos Kós (seating 185) and a chamber hall of 60. A puppet workshop for children and a puppet museum is also set up to enhance the theatrical experience. In the emptied building in Mária street exhibitions of contemporary fine art have been organized since the company left.

 

Literature (in Hungarian)

Kós Lajos: A Bóbita, Pannónia Könyvek, 1993.

Balogh Géza:  A bábszínház alapító - Kós Lajos (1924-2008), http://www.bobita.hu/magunkrol/kos_lajos

Ambrus Attiláné Dr. Kéri Katalin: Női időtöltések száz évvel ezelőtt, Valóság 1997/3, 36-44.. Online: http://kerikata.hu/publikaciok/text/sport.htm

 

 

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