Lithuanian puppet theatre. Panevėžio Lėlių Vežimo Teatras (Panevėžys Puppet Wagon Theatre) was founded by Antanas Markuckis in 1985 in the Linas textile company in the city of Panevėžys, northern Lithuania. A public institution since 1991, the company occupies several buildings on Respublikos Street. Each summer, a horse-drawn puppet theatre, in the style of a gypsy caravan, tours the entirety of Lithuania, effectively reviving the travelling theatre tradition of J. Vaičkus and bringing culture to remote villages. The travelling theatre then returns to its headquarters in Panevėžys and continues to give performances through the winter season.
Each year, the company presents three new shows in 300 performances, drawing over 30,000 spectators. The repertoire includes the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault, and Lithuanian authors such as E. Matulaite, E. Mezginaite, J. Kazakaitis, V. Zilinskaite, S. Geda, R. Žilevičius, and K. Kubilinskas. Many directors and artists have been invited to create shows – supporting the exchange of learning between experts and young artists. The young composers P. Kricena and L. Balciunas both received their start in this way. Panevėžys Puppet Wagon Theatre also organizes the Lagaminas (“Suitcase”) Festival and the Week of Russian Puppet Theatre Artists in Lithuania.
Both Panevėžys Puppet Wagon Theatre and its current director, Antanas Markuckis, have received numerous awards of distinction (Antanas Markuckis was awarded the International Hans Christian Andersen Prize in Copenhagen in 2003). The theatre company has represented its home country of Lithuania in Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. In addition, the company is home to the learning extension branch for puppeteers and directors of the Theatre Institute of Iaroslav, Russia, supervised by S.F. Jelezkine (winner of the Golden Mask prize in 1998).