Story and photo by Marianne Salza
Like most children growing up in Czechoslovakia, Vít Hořejš developed a love and appreciation for the tradition of marionette puppetry.
Now as the Artistic Director of the Czechoslovak- American Marionette Theatre (CAMT), Hořejš shares these special stories with families, performing large productions each year – including an exclusive show last weekend in Charlestown at the Charlestown Working Theatre (CWT).
“The tradition is more than 300 years old,” said Hořejš. “As a child I played with my mother’s puppets from the 1920s.”
The Czechoslovak- American Marionette Theatre, based in New York City, is a non-profit organization dedication to the preservation and presentation of traditional and contemporary puppetry.
On May 21, Hořejš presented three folk tales with an intimate audience at the CWT. Wearing his colorful story-telling cloak, Hořejš handled antique marionettes, some nearly 200 years old.
Hořejs’s first story described a princess who likes her father, the king, as much as salt. Insulted by her lack of affection, the king banishes her. When the princess returns home with magic salt that never depletes, her father apologizes for his temper and she becomes queen.
The second tale depicts a water spirit, a supernatural being found in many Czech stories.
His third story was about a callous village woman who is asked to dance by a stranger who later reveals himself as the devil.
“I discovered that mixing live people with puppets has many possibilities,” said Hořejš. “It allows adults to become children and children to see something different and see how there is magic in a piece of wood and a few strings.”