WATCH OUT, ZORRO! The Alfa Theatre’s new production is full of puppet magic. This time it employs around eighty puppets, all to the rhythm of live Mexican mariachi music. The ancestor of our masked superheroes, Zorro the Avenger, swings into action once again. Will the man in the black mask save the villagers from the claws of a villainous potentate? Will he in doing so win the heart of the charming Lolita? And who is it under the mask of Zorro, anyway? A puppet comedy full of adventure with a minimum of words but a lot of action and live music. The creators of the production – Liberec dramaturg and playwright Vít Peřina and Alfa Theatre director Tomáš Dvořák – were freely inspired by Johnston McCulley’s book The Mark of Zorro and its film versions, above all the 1920 film of the same name featuring Douglas Fairbanks in the main role.
This spectacle for the whole family on a well-known subject will be appreciated, I think, above all by adult audience members, since the extremely brief libretto in its bizarre language variation (“Spanish” with a large amount of -os and -as endings) is enriched by the adventurous story of the avenger and subsequently revolutionary leader with a number of crafty incidents concerning relationships between men and women, above all concerning the tricks of Amor. (…) Nesveda’s artistic contribution to the production is unforgettable, with the puppets – depending on their character – either displaying an elegant beauty or creating the suspicion of insidious ugliness. The set design exudes Mexican warmth.
– JAN KERBR, Svět a divadlo
TOMÁŠ DVOŘÁK (1956) The in-house director of Pilsen’s Alfa Theatre comes from a puppeteer family (his father was at the birth of the DRAK theatre in Hradec Králové) and the history of modern Czech puppet theatre is in part the history of his successful productions, shown not only in Pilsen but in the Naïve Theatre in Liberec. Of those that have graced the DIVADLO festival we should mention The Headless Knight, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Alina, The Handsome Fire Chief and Swan Lake from the Liberec theatre, and from the Alfa Goodness Gracious, It’s the Dogheads, The Three Musketeers, James Blond and Three Strong Men on the Road.
DIVADLO ALFA The Divadlo dětí (Children’s Theatre), the Alfa’s direct predecessor, opened in 1966 in the Alfa’s premises on Americká Street in Pilsen. In 1992 it moved into a modern building on Rokycanská 7 and took on its current name. Its statutory establishing body is the City of Pilsen. The theatre is aimed at a wide public, from nursery-school children to adults. To all it offers an alternative to the dominant media culture. For a number of years the theatre’s incomparable style has been created by director Tomáš Dvořák and artist Ivan Nesveda. The theatre company has been on over a hundred foreign tours, with one of its most successful productions, The Three Musketeers, playing for several weeks in Japan and Saudi Arabia. This year was also to have taken the theatre to Asia, with Zorro to have toured to Japan and South Korea, but the trip had to be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Alfa Theatre is also the joint organiser of the Skupa’s Pilsen puppet festival.