Hungarian puppeteer, painter/stage designer and director who worked mostly in France. Géza Blattner studied painting in Munich (Germany) with the Hungarian painter Simon Hollósy. He became involved with puppetry during World War I by collaborating on productions of the Budapest City Theatre. To the great dismay of his parents he then dedicated himself fully to puppetry and completed his training with Richard Teschner in Vienna and Paul Brann in Munich.
In Budapest, in 1919, he held his first “secessionist” puppet show for adults entitled Wajang játékok (Wayang Plays), (see Wayang) using flat figures animated by strings to present works by famous Hungarian authors such as Dezső Kosztolányi and Béla Balázs. Between 1919 and 1925, he attempted to recreate fairground shows with Antal Németh (1903-1967), who later became a famous Hungarian theatre personality and an influential advocate of puppetry. Blattner also experimented with new lever-operated puppets (also called keyboard puppets) which he later improved upon after he immigrated to France in 1925.
Géza Blattner settled in Paris where he established the Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow) Puppet Theatre. Artists from all over gathered around him: Constantin Detre, Sándor Toth, Marie Vassilieff …Others joined them later: Paul Jeanne, Frédéric O’Brady, Sigismund Walleshausen. The first important public show was in Paris at the 2nd UNIMA Congress in 1929. Up until 1934, Blattner performed experimental, “grotesque” or aesthetic pantomime productions with his puppets, and then later added classic mysteries and a variety of dramatic works.
Géza Blattner was one of the first to break with the traditional style of dialogue and naturalism to create a visual theatre that introduced new values in puppetry performance. He exerted a strong influence in Europe, especially in France and Hungary.
The Arc-en-ciel produced over seventy productions which included A lovag meg a jegyese (The Knight and His Fiancée, 1929) by Dezső Kosztolányi, A fekete korsó (The Black Jug, 1929 and 1933), A halász és a hold ezüstje (The Fisherman and the Silver Moon, 1920), A könnyű ember (The Easy Man, 1920), Benjo úr és a pelikánja (Mr Benjo and his Pelican, 1932) all four by Béla Balázs; Ádám misztériuma (The Mysteries of Adam, 1934) by Pierre Albert-Birot, Aucassin és Nicolette (Aucassin and Nicolette, 1935), Az ember tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man, 1937) after Imre Madách, Szűz Mária misztériuma (The Mystery of the Virgin Mary, 1938).
During World War II, Géza Blattner took refuge in Valençay (France), where he created a new theatre and worked as an educator. His greatest regret was to not have been able to create a permanent theatre in Paris in spite of his seventy-three productions.
- Balogh, Géza. “Vásári és művészi bábjáték” [Fairground and Art Puppetry]. Magyar színháztörténet, 1920-1949 [History of Hungarian Theatre, 1920-1949]. Eds. György Székely and Tamás Bécsy. Budapest, 2005.
- Belitska-Scholz, Hedvig. Vásári és művészi bábjáték Magyarországon [Fairground and Art Puppetry in Hungary]. Tihany, 1974.
- Gervais, André-Charles. Marionnettes et marionnettistes de France. Paris: Bordas, 1947.
- Németh, Antal. “Művészi bábjáték törekvések hazánkban” [The Art Puppet Theatre in Hungary]. A bábjátszás Magyarországon [Puppetry in Hungary] Budapest, 1955.