Czech travelling puppeteer. As an apprentice puppeteer, Jan Nepomuk Lašťovka adopted early on the traditional style of the popular Czech showmen. Later, he tried to work in a circus, and by the late 1850s, he devoted himself to puppetry where he had found his calling. He excelled in the profession due to his acting skills, his natural intelligence, and the breadth of his reading. Having realized that the traditional stage settings and repertoires had gradually become obsolete, he undertook to modify them so they would reflect the rapid developments and changes in Czech society.
He expanded the original puppet theatre repertoire with his own adaptations of Goethe’s Faust and the dramatization of three plays with historical plots from the Hussite movement. His specialty was the improvisation of original songs based on political and local events as themes in his productions, which earned him the nickname of “puppeteer-politician”.
Through his efforts to innovate the repertoire and strengthen the social function of his art, Jan Nepomuk Lašťovka became the most important representative of Czech puppet theatre of the second half of the 19th century.
(See Czech Republic.)
- Bartoš, Jaroslav. “O Janu Nepomukovi Lašťovkovi” [About Jan Nepomuk Lašťovka]. Československý loutkář [Czechoslovak Puppeteer]. Vol. 10, No. 3, 1960.
- Veselý, Jindřich. “Doktor Faust od loutkáře Lašťovky” [Doctor Faust from the Puppeteer Lašťovka]. Český loutkář [Czech Puppeteer]. Vol. 1, No. 4, 1912, p. 120.