Miracle Cabinet or Orbis Pictus

Hza Bažant, Michaela Homolová, Filip Homola, Vít Peřina


Michaela Homolová

THE CABINET OF MIRACLES, OR ORBIS PICTUS The world in pictures, according not only to Comenius. The production, inspired by John Amos Comenius’ Orbis Pictus, is a kind of theatrical introduction to the functioning of Planet Earth. It is the work of the creative team led by in-house director and artistic head of the Naïve Theatre Liberec Michaela Homolová, whose work at the NDL includes the production The Ram Who Fell From Heaven. The production might be subtitled “The Globe in a Nutshell”, or rather in a cupboard – on the model of the old-fashioned curio cabinets, the actors pull less or more known artefacts off various shelves, and then bring them to life using the oldest and most traditional puppet tricks. Using theatre magic and miracles, they gradually acquaint the children in the audience with the greatest miracles of life around us. For some people it is nature, for some humans
themselves, while someone else will stare in amazement at the discoveries and inventions that humans have been responsible for during their existence. The greatest miracle, however, is Planet Earth as a whole and its functioning in the universe.

“ The Naïve Theatre Liberec and Michaela Homolová herself have for some time been known for plays that are both poetical and didactic at the same time. Cabinet of Miracles, inspired by Comenius’ work Orbis Pictus, is the quintessence of this direction. Don’t expect dry lessons, however: this painted world according to Michaela Homolová, and above all artist Hza Bažant, is mysterious, metaphorical and bewitching. This learning about the world through theatre is designed mostly for children, but the accompanying adults watch the remarkable pictures of the world and all its riches with baited breath.

[…] Although it draws on Comenius’ text, the Liberec Cabinet of Miracles is above all deliberately visual. It shows us the world as a cabinet collection of remarkable objects and phenomena, and becomes an embodied metaphor of teaching in accordance with the principle “learning through play”.
——NINA MALÍKOVÁ, Divadelní noviny

MICHAELA HOMOLOVÁ (1972) Director and actor. Studied directing and dramaturgy at KALD DAMU in Prague, graduating in 1995 with the production Around the World in Eighty Days in the Small Theatre in České Budějovice. Since 1996 she has worked with the Prešov theatre Babadlo, and in 1999 she started to work as an actor and director at the NDL. The first plays that she directed there include The Tinder Box, Slapstick and …another Bedřich. Since 2005 she has regularly worked with the author (and dramaturg) Vít Peřina, and their productions for children and young people have won a number of festival awards (for example Alphabet Soup, The Magic Porridge Pot, Roast Doves, or Sayings, Budulínek, The Ram Who Fell From Heaven and others. In 2014 the production of The Ram Who Fell From Heaven was nominated for production of the year in the prestigious Theatre Critics’ Prize. For the production Shhh. Shhh. Hooo. Woof! she received the Divadelní noviny award, the Mateřinka festival award and an Erik award.

Naïve THEATRE LIBEREC was founded in 1949 as one of the first professional puppet theatres in the former Czechoslovakia. Its history is connected with the names of director and actor Jan Schmid (who founded the Ypsilon Studio there in 1963, which then moved to Prague in the 1970s), director Markéta Schartová and playwright Iva Peřinová. Since the early 1990s its managing director has been Stanislav Doubrava. The theatre does not have a permanent director, but works with guest professionals from other puppet and drama theatres. The theatre’s most critically acclaimed plays include The Handsome Fire Chief or Fire in the National Theatre (2005), directed by Tomáš Dvořák. Its author, Iva Peřinová, was nominated among other things for an anniversary Alfréd Radok Award. The play was filmed by Czech Television, and the company also performed it repeatedly on the stage of the National Theatre’s historic building. Five years later the same creative team produced a puppet interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet Swan Lake (2009). Another area of long-term success has been the theatre’s work for small children, created by director Michaela Homolová and author and dramaturge Vít Peřina. Their production of Budulínek (2012) won an award for the best Czech puppet theatre production of the year. A further production by the team, The Ram Who Fell From Heaven (2014), met with similar acclaim. The company’s further successes include the “magical” productions Bohemia is by the Sea (2016) and There are Places the Dark Likes, Where Never and Nothing Hide on Islands Remote (2017). All these productions – especially Ram, universally understandable in language terms – were successful not just at the Divadlo international theatre festival, but were invited to a number of prestigious Czech and foreign theatre festivals. The Naïve Theatre is a regular guest at these festivals, undertaking numerous journeys not only to most European countries, but also to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US, Canada, Mexico, India, Israel, Korea and Pakistan. In June 2021 the 26th year of the Mateřinka International Festival of Professional Puppet Theatres took place. It is held in Liberec every two years and is organised by the Naïve Theatre.