Freelance Norwegian puppet company established in Trondheim in 1978. The founder and Artistic Director of Petrusjka Teater is Tatjana Zaitzow, trained as an architect and a dancer. The theatre was very successful with its first production, Om Paja (The Story of Paja, 1979) by Tatjana Zaitzow, a glove puppet show for children. The production was invited to national and international festivals and was produced for the Norwegian TV broadcasting corporation (NRK).
Petrusjka Teater has since experimented with most puppetry techniques and a wide variety of materials. Tivolircus (1981), by Anne Lise Stenberg and Tatjana Zaitow, marked a break with traditional Norwegian puppetry. Here, the puppeteer enters into a dialogue with the puppet, performing as an actor on stage with the puppets. Large rod puppets with visible puppeteers are used in the production for children, Hvit som snø (White as Snow, 1985), by Alexander Pushkin, dramatized by Anne-Grete Bergsland. In Dukkemakerens drøm (The Puppet-maker’s Dream, 1987), Tatjana Zaitzow, the play’s author, performs the part of the puppet-maker while puppets of all kinds support her in her dream of making the most complicated puppet of all, namely the marionette string puppet. Ravno – en fuglehistorie (Ravno – A Story About Birds, 1988), by Anne-Grete Bergsland, is based on Norwegian mythology and uses a range of techniques from rod puppets to mask theatre.
In the 1990s, the Petrusjka Teater researched puppetry’s unique “language”. With Ert (Pea, 1993), based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea”, Tatjana Zaitzow’s experimentation in this production was through reviving her own childhood games played with cardboard houses. Her cardboard castle has numerous tiny rooms, which can be opened and closed. In 2004, Zaitzow announced that De tarvelige (The Miserable), about a bag lady, would be her last major production. The stage setting, which evokes a world that is wretched and oppressive, nonetheless has an aesthetic quality that has been the hallmark of the Petrusjka Teater since its founding in 1979.
For Tatjana Zaitzow, the puppet theatre is – in accordance with her background as an architect and a dancer – movement and rhythm in space. She writes, “The movements of the puppets is my language. I see no challenge in trying to achieve a human quality in the moulding of, or in my play with the puppets. The challenge lies in finding the unforeseen movements and expressions in the figure’s individual construction of steel thread, wooden rods, material and glue. You begin with a dead object … ”
Petrusjka Teater has produced several of their performances for television – for NRK-Fjernsynet (Norwegian TV) and TV-Zagreb. The theatre has toured the countries of Scandinavia, as well as Germany, France, the former Yugoslavia, Estonia, Poland, Russia and Canada.
- Bergsland, Anne Grete, and Tatjana Zaitzow. “Dukketeatrets regi” [Directing for the Puppet Theatre]. Regikunst [Art Direction]. Ed. Helge Reistad. Oslo: Tell Forlag, 1991.
- Helgesen, Anne Margrethe. “Animasjonen – Figurteatrets velsignelse og forbannelse. Norsk figurteaterhistorie” [Animation – Figure Theatre’s Blessing and Curse. Norwegian Puppetry History]. PhD Diss. Faculty of Art. University of Oslo 2003.
- Zaitzow, Tatjana. Petrusjka Teater 10 år [Petrusjka Teater’s 10 Years]. Trondheim, 1988.