Lithuanian puppet theatre. Kauno Valstybinis Lėlių Teatras was founded in the city of Kapsukas, in 1958, by the husband and wife team of Stasys Ratkevičius (1917-2010) and Valerija Gruodytė-Ratkevičienė (1916-2004). Two years later, in 1960, the company relocated to Kaunas. The Kaunas State Puppet Theatre creates shows primarily for children and is dedicated to portraying kindness and beauty, so as to be a good influence on young hearts and minds.

Each year, more than 45,000 spectators attend shows in one of two performance halls (226 and 50 seats respectively). Even with some 300 shows already created, every year four or five new ones are made. The Kaunas State Puppet Theatre also performs in schools and is involved with therapeutic work for children in hospitals and sanatoriums. Its repertoire consists of the fairy tales and folk stories from Lithuania, as well as well-known tales from around the world. The troupe has toured to many foreign countries, including Hungary, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, former Soviet Republics, and various countries in Latin America. They have performed in a number of international festivals. They also have a puppet museum located on-site.

Beginning in 1991, the Kaunas State Puppet Theatre began hosting a yearly International Puppetry Festival (in conjunction with UNIMA-Lithuania and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania). This festival is accompanied by a street procession of puppets and masks, marking the end of the school year. Later in the year, at the end of August, the new theatre season opens with the “Fairytale City Festival”, a colourful event using scenery and props from the theatre.

Among other notable commendations, Stasys Ratkevičius was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas’ Order for Merit in Lithuanian Art, in 2003.

Currently, Algimantas Stankevičius is the Kaunas State Puppet Theatre’s producer and Sigitas Klibavičius is its director.

(See Lithuania.)