BirthZagreb, Croatia (1920)
DeathZagreb, Croatia (1982)
Croatian creator of puppets, scenographer and costume designer. A graduate in architecture, Berislav Deželić devoted himself from early youth to scenography and costume design, working in many drama theatres and opera houses in Croatia and throughout former Yugoslavia, and also abroad (Syria, Poland, Romania, the former Czechoslovakia, former Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Spain, Italy, the former USSR and Switzerland). He won the Golden Dolphin award at the Varna International Puppet Theatre Festival in Bulgaria.
In his puppetry work, Deželić was associated mostly with Zagrebačko kazalište lutaka (Zagreb Puppet Theatre), providing definition of the theatre’s specific style during the 1960s and 1970s, imposing the distinction of his visual solutions and manner of acting. His puppetry expression was specifically marked by his reduction of character to the essential features, almost to a geometrical strictness and abstraction, a perfect harmonization of puppet and scene in both colouring and volume. He worked almost exclusively in the rod puppet technique, which was to become for quite some time the dominant technique, both in that theatre particularly and in the Croatian puppet theatre in general.
Berislav Deželić revolutionized the puppet expression, annulling the anthropomorphic puppet and illusionist imitation, reducing it to its essence as a visually independent being. With his solutions in puppetry he also demanded new ways of animation: rotation, swaying, flickering and pulsation according to the logic of material and physical laws. He summarized the philosophy of puppetry in the following words: “The puppet play belongs in the first place to the visual-formative world. The story and text are merely the basic elements of the show. Ideas are drawn from the text and translated in the material language of elements of visual arts.”