German puppet theatre. Founded in 1952, the Puppentheater Dresden was the first Soviet-style State puppet theatre in the GDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or East Germany). It opened with the reprise of the play Der fröhliche Sünder (The Cheerful Sinner) by Paul Hölzig. Attached to the regional theatres in Saxony, the Puppentheater Dresden functioned as a large touring company presenting shows for adults and children. The first artistic director was Alex Rötzch (1901-1959). In 1960, the company joined the Theater der jungen Generation (Theatre for the Young Generation), a theatre for children and adolescents in Dresden, where its audience was reduced to the target group of three- to six-year-olds. Under the direction of Fritz Däbritz (1919-1985), the company obtained a permanent location which brought its independence. Fritz Däbritz experimented with new playing techniques such as black theatre and the mixing of techniques. He gave great importance to staging, directing and teaching concepts. These efforts were rewarded by, among others, the international success of the show Tiger Peter (Peter the Tiger, 1965).

During the 1970s, extensive repairs to the theatre demanded its closure several times, slowing the development of its repertoire. Performances for adults were resumed in 1976. In the 1980s, the company, after having recruited the director Peter Beckert (1927-1988), benefited from the arrival of graduates from the Higher School of Dramatic Art in Berlin (now the Hochschule für Schauspielkunst “Ernst Busch”, Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art).

Small productions performed with puppeteers in view of the audience became the focus of the company’s programme. The main theatre was finally able to be reopened in 1988 under the leadership of new director Dietmar Müller (1943-1997). Müller favoured an intelligent folk theatre with productions of fairy tales, Kasper stories, and historical pieces for adults. Horst-Joachim Lonius, artistic director from 1996 to 2000, brought new energy to the theatre cultivating a literary repertoire in addition to the traditional fairy tales.

In 1998, the theatre was re-integrated into the Theater der jungen Generation. Under the artistic direction of Heikki Ikkola, the Puppentheater Dresden explores new literary sources and works with artists from around the world.

(See Germany.)