Vilnius puppet theatre „Lėlė“
The puppet theatre „Lėlė“ is situated in the Old Town of Vilnius, in the former palace of the Duke Oginsky family. The theatre moved into this building after its restoration in 1975. The founder and the sponsor of the theatre is the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
The theatre company has two performance halls, a creative workshop and a permanent Live Puppet Museum exposition in the basement.
The Great Hall, decorated in the Baroque style, seats around 220 spectators. Its small, yet contemporary stage is used for puppet shows of different genres, and for small-scale drama performances. Quite a few international puppet theatre festivals were held here, and the stage witnessed performances of many participants of international festivals LIFE and SIRENOS.
The Small Hall of „Lėlė” set up in the Gothic basement of the Oginsky palace in 1992 seats around 50 people. It is used for small-scale puppet theatre shows, most often for the youngest viewers of the theatre. From 2017, chamber performances are also taking place in the creative workshop of the theatre, which is located in the attic.
The „Lėlė“ theatre company stages Lithuanian and worldwide fairy tales for children. Puppet and drama plays for adults are also performed; they are based on the national dramaturgy and classics of the world literature.
Vilnius Puppet Theatre, the predecessor of „Lėlė“, was established by puppeteer, actor and director Balys Lukošius in 1958. After him, the famous Lithuanian puppeteer and scenographer Vitalijus Mazūras worked in the theatre and directed it. His performances, including Pelenų antelė (The Ash Duck), Baltas berniukas Niekas (A White Boy Named Nobody), Žemės dukra (The Daughter of the Earth) caused an aesthetic revolution in the art of East European puppet theatres in the seventies and eighties of the 20th century. Pieces for the puppet theatre „Lėlė“ were written by famous Lithuanian poets of the time Sigitas Geda and Marcelijus Martinaitis, music was composed by some of the most interesting composers of contemporary Lithuanian music, including Feliksas Bajoras, Faustas Latėnas, Algirdas Martinaitis, Vidmantas Bartulis. V. Mazūras’ traditions at the theatre are continued by his pupils, stage directors Rimas Driežis and Algirdas Mikutis; the unique aesthetics of the theatre is further fostered by set designers Aušra Bagočiūnaitė Paukštienė, Julija Skuratova, Neringa Keršulytė, director and playwright Nijolė Indriūnaitė.
Today the theatre also collaborates with the well-known artists from the field of drama and the young generation representing different fields of stage art, including Rolandas Kazlas, Gintarė Radvilavičiūte, Renata Valčik, Šarūnas Datenis, Antanas Dubra, Olga Lapina, Mikas Žukauskas, Žilvinas Vingelis, Ainis Storpištis, Jūratė Trimakaitė.
Currently, twenty professional actor-puppeteers are employed at the Vilnius Theatre “Lėlė”. They are all acting graduates of higher education institutions in Vilnius. The theatre also has a team of puppet builders and designers who make all types of puppets, e.g. marionettes, shadow puppets, mixed manipulation puppets and masks for actors. The puppet builders and designers also often work as the teachers of educational programmes of the theatre and assistants for the events organised by the Live Puppet Museum of the theatre.
Performances of the Puppet Theatre „Lėlė“ have received numerous awards from the national and international festivals of the professional puppet theatres. The theatre mostly tours Lithuania, yet it has also performed for the audiences in China, Algeria, Ethiopia, USA, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, the UK, Austria, India, Kazakhstan, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia and elsewhere. The shows during tours were performed in English, Russian, Polish, German and French. From 1966, the theatre participates in the festivals organized by UNIMA, the International Puppetry Organization; the puppet theatre „Lėlė“ is also an active participant in the activities of ASSITEJ, the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People.
The creative staff of Vilnius theatre ‘Lėlė” is making every effort to stay open to the best traditions of the puppet theatre for children, and to the valuable trends of the contemporary theatre. Most importantly, the theatre strives to remain interesting and needed for both children, and adult audiences.