Bulgarian director and professor. Atanas Ilkov began his artistic career in 1951 as an actor and musician at the Naroden kuklen teatur (People’s Puppet Theatre) with Mara Penkova, while at the same time studying Economics (graduating in 1951) and Directing (1956). From 1956 to 1958, he was an actor at the Drama Theatre of Blagoevgrad, but was soon attracted to puppetry. During the years 1958-1963 and 1976-1982, he was the director at the Stolichen kuklen teatur (Sofia Central Puppet Theatre).

In 1962, in collaboration with Nikolina Georgieva, Atanas Ilkov set up the Department of Puppetry at the National Academy of Theatre and Film (VITIZ/NATFIZ), today, the Natsionalna akademia za teatralni i filmovi izkustva (NATFA), National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts).

Atanas Ilkov was one of the pioneers in his country of professional training for actors and directors in the puppetry arts. He directed performances and delivered lectures around the world, including in Yugoslavia, Germany, France, Spain, Finland, Cuba, Japan, USSR, and Luxembourg. In 1960, with Nikolina Georgieva, he directed Prokofiev’s Petya i Vulkat (Peter and the Wolf), which was highly acclaimed in Bulgaria and abroad. In 1962, he presented Sukrovishteto na Silvester (Silvester’s Treasure), the first puppet theatre production for an adult audience in Bulgaria, thus paving the way in this area. He directed more than one hundred productions in Bulgaria and overseas, some of which have been in performance for over twenty years. Among his most well-known works are Sheste Pingvincheta (The Six Little Penguins, 1972), Chervenata shapchitsa (Little Red Riding Hood, 1976), Princesata i grahovoto zarno (The Princess and the Pea, 1976), Winnie the Pooh (1978), Meko Kazano (That Is To Say, 1984), Mecheto Rimchimchi (Rimchimchi the Bear, 1984), Biala prikazka (White Tale, 1995) of Valeri Petrov. Some of these productions have been restaged around the world.

Atanas Ilkov is the recipient of many national and international awards for directing, including the Golden Dolphin. For his lifetime achievement, he was awarded the title Honorary Artist.

(See Bulgaria.)