American puppeteer and director. Roman Paska is an American-born artist whose challenging theatre works are perhaps best known in Europe. After extensive travels in Europe and Asia, Roman Paska’s work was first presented by Charles Ludlam in New York in 1980. His work became known for its personal language of complex and poetic visual imagery. As a performance artist/puppeteer, his work was presented in both theatres and galleries. There were appearances at Cooper-Hewitt Museum (New York), the New Museum (New York), and the Wexner Center (Columbus, Ohio). Developing an original style inspired by the puppetry of China, Japan, and especially Indonesia, he began his series of solo pieces called Theatre for the Birds. The trilogy of works, Line of Flight (1984), Uccelli, the Drugs of Love (1988), and The End of the World (1992), were presented throughout the world, establishing his reputation as a performance artist, a puppet manipulator and craftsman. As a director, his work has been characterized by the integration of puppets or puppetry techniques into productions created for groups of actors, dancers and musicians.
His group productions include original adaptations of W.B. Yeats’ The Shadowy Waters (Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1991), August Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata (Stockholm, 1992), Federico García Lorca’s Yerma (Seville, 1993), his own Moby Dick in Venice (in three versions: Porto, 1994; Perth, 1995; New York, 1996), God Mother Radio with Massimo Schuster, based on Christopher Marlow’s Massacre at Paris (Paris, 1998), and Arden/Ardennes (Avignon, 2000), based on William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Roman Paska and Bill Irwin (b.1950) collaborated on the productions Dead Puppet Talk (New York, 2004) and The Happiness Lecture (Philadelphia, 2008).
Four of Roman Paska’s productions have been seen at the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater, at the Public Theater in New York. Other venues have included festivals in London, Santarcangelo and Polverigi, and theatres in Venice, Rome, Lausanne, Vienna, Stockholm, and Paris. Five of his productions have received UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence. Roman Paska has represented American puppetry at UNIMA World Puppetry Festivals (Dresden, 1984; Nagoya, 1988). He has received several international awards.
Roman Paska created and performed a series of puppet scenes for John Turturro’s film Illuminata, presented at Cannes in 1998. From 1999 to 2002, he was the director of the Institut International de la Marionnette (IIM, International Puppetry Institute) in Charleville-Mézières, France. Roman Paska directed the documentary film featuring Sicilian rod marionette pupi, Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy (Prove per una Tragedia Siciliana, 2009), written by Paska and actor/director John Tuturro.
Roman Paska currently divides his time between Paris and New York, where he is writing and developing new work.
(See United States of America.)
- “Notes on Puppet Primitives and the Future of an Illusion”. The Language of the Puppet. Vancouver (WA): Puppetry Center Press/Tears of Joy Theatre, 1990.