German puppet theatre founded in 1948 in Augsburg by actors Walter Oehmichen (1901-1974) and his wife Rose (1901-1985). The Augsburger Puppenkiste (Augsburg Puppet Box), which has resided since its founding in the historic building of Heilig-Geist-Spital in Augsburg, has a wide repertoire of plays for children and adults. The name “Puppenkiste” (puppet box) refers to the type of stage known since 1943: a simple box with a front panel made of double doors opening to the public. The author, playwright, and director Manfred Jenning (1929-1979) was instrumental in the success of this company.
Beginning with the musical Peter und der Wolf (Peter and the Wolf) by Sergei Prokofiev in 1953, the Augsburger Puppenkiste did a series of youth programmes for German television. A large share of these programmes, usually consisting of six episodes, were created from scripts written by Jenning and were produced in Mainz for the channel broadcasting in the state of Hessen. They are now regarded in Germany as classic children’s television. Among them are: Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer (Jim Knopf and Lukas the Engine Driver, 1961-1962), Kater Mikesch (Tomcat Mikesch, 1964), Die Geschichte vom Löwen (The Story about the Lion, 1965-1967), Urmel aus dem Eis (Urmel from the Ice, 1969) and König Kalle Wirsch (King Kalle Wirsch, 1970). At the same time the Puppenkiste made about four hundred short episodes titled Sandmännchen (Little Sandman) for toddlers that were aired at bedtime before the adult programming started as well as educational programmes. The film Monty Spinnerratz was produced in 1996-1997 for the international market.
The Augsburger Puppenkiste continues to be a family business now run by the third generation. The museum “Die Kiste” (The Box) was opened in the same building in 2001. It houses a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibits of puppets and theatre sets from theatre and television productions over the years.
- Schweinberger, Willy, and Hanns-J. Marschall, eds. Stars an Fäden. Das große Farbbuch über die weltberühmte Augsburger Puppenkiste [Stars at the End of Strings. The Big Picture Book about the World Famous Augsburger Puppenkiste]. Augsburg: AWO-Werbung GmbH, 1985.