Polish puppet theatre operating in Gdańsk since 1947. Known originally as Teatr Łątek, it was founded by Olga and Ewa Totwen in Wilno (today Vilnius) during World War II. Nationalized in 1950, Teatr Łątek was headed by Olga and Ewa Totwen until August 1951.
The theatre, renamed Miniatura in 1957, was directed by stage designer Ali Bunsch from 1952 to 1961; he defined the theatre’s artistic programme, basing it on an interest in Polish folk traditions and national history. Bunsch attracted a group of artists to the theatre, notably author and director Natalia Gołębska and actor-puppeteer and stage director Michał Zarzecki, with whom he made Miniatura one of the most renowned puppet theatres in the country.
In the 1950s, Miniatura distinguished itself by employing the architectural model of the szopka (see Nativity Scenes) as a scenic space for staging plays, notably in Flisak i Przydróżka (The Raftsman and Przydróżka, 1957) by Hanna Januszewska, and Pastorałka (The Nativity, 1957), based on Leon Schiller. The adaptation of Bo w Mazurze taka dusza (For the Spirit of Mazurian, 1962), directed by Natalia Gołębska, epitomized the aesthetic aims of Miniatura, which served as a model even outside of Poland, and established the artistic standard of puppet productions based on folklore. Miniatura also generated a series of richly costumed and choreographed musical productions that were visually appealing and animated with consummate skill (with marottes and rod puppets).
Michał Zarzecki, artistic director from 1962 to 1977, focused his attention (more than other company directors) on classical puppetry techniques, dexterous manipulation skills by the actor-puppeteers that gave an unusually high standard of performance, as is evident in Latający wiatrak (The Flying Windmill, 1964) by Alina and Jerzy Afanasjew, in Ilja Muromiec (1967) by Vsevolod Kurdiumov, and in Tajemnica złotego kluczyka (The Mystery of the Golden Key, 1978) by Jekaterina Borisova.
With the departure of Natalia Gołębska in 1971 and by Michał Zarzecki and the stage designer Gizela Bachtin-Karłowska in the late 1970s, Miniatura underwent a period of instability under a succession of managing directors with very different artistic personalities and preferences (notably Zbigniew Wilkoński, Piotr Tomaszuk, Tomasz Jaworski, Konrad Szachnowski), which prevented the theatre from further developing its original style. Since 2011, Miniatura is headed by Romuald Wicza-Pokojski.
- Jurkowski, Henryk. Teatr Miniatura. Tezy do monografii [Miniatura Theatre. Thesis for a Monograph]. Gdańsk: TLiA Miniatura, 1979. [S]
- “Teatr Miniatura. Artyści i konwencje” [Miniatura Theatre. Artists and Conventions]. Gdańsk teatralny – Historia i współczesność [Gdańsk Theatre – History and the Present]. Gdańsk, 1988.
- Waszkiel, Marek. Dzieje teatru lalek w Polsce, 1944-2000 [History of Puppet Theatre in Poland, 1944-2000]. Warszawa: Akademia Teatralna im. Aleksandra Zelwerowicza, 2012.[S]
- Wiśniewska, Jolanta Ewa. Natalia Gołębska. Dokumentacja działalności [Natalia Gołębska. Documentation of Her Work]. Vol. 13 of “Lalkarze. Materiały do biografii” series. Ed. M. Waszkiel. Łódź, 1996 (with a bibliography).