Bulgarian actress, stage director and theatre manager. Founder of the Central Puppet Theatre in Sofia (today, Stolichen kuklen teatur [lier]Sofia Central Puppet Theatre[/lier]) and its director for many years, Mara Penkova first began acting in 1919 on the stage of the newly founded drama theatre in Bourgas. She was a member of the Theatre Studio at the National Theatre in Sofia from 1920, where she worked with N.O. Masalitinov.

Her interest in puppetry was aroused after she was an established dramatic actor. In 1942, Mara Penkova studied puppetry in Germany. After retiring from the theatre in 1946, she devoted herself to puppetry. In 1946, with colleagues she had gathered together from the National Theatre, the new puppet company, initially called Kolektiven kuklen teatur (Collective Puppet Theatre), premiered with Tatuncho i Drakona (Tatuncho and the Dragon), performed at the Military Club. In 1948, the theatre was recognized by the authorities and was renamed Naroden kuklen teatur (People’s Puppet Theatre; later to be again renamed Stolichen kuklen teatur Central Puppet Theatre, also known as Sofia Puppet Theatre).

During this period Mara Penkova followed the experience she had gained from her six-months’ specialization with Sergei Obraztsov directed by Slavcho Malenov.

and devoted her efforts to establishing the new role of puppetry in the artistic life of the country. She received the prestigious national award for her production, Pepeliashka (Cinderella).

Mara Penkova researched puppetry as an art form. She established the realistic trend in Bulgarian puppetry. Her work and contributions have confirmed her standing as founder of professional puppetry in Bulgaria.

(See also Bulgaria, Sofia Central Puppet Theatre, Stolichen Kuklen Teatur.)