Czech puppet theatre established in Prague in 1945. Also known under the name Divadlo S+H (Theatre S+H Theatre), the Divadlo Spejbla a Hurvínka was founded by Josef Skupa who took the name of his two famous comic characters, Spejbl and Hurvínek, protagonists he had created for his first theatre established in Plzeň (Pilsen) in 1930.
In its first post-war season, the Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre mainly focused on short sketches, which combined skilful puppetry techniques, fantasy, and movement charged with emotion. These programmes were primarily addressed toward child audiences in order to avoid the pressures of political propaganda, which was attempting to exploit the extraordinary popularity of Spejbl and Hurvínek. The theatre returned to social themes in the mid-1950s during the post-war period after Stalin’s death with the comedy of Jaroslav Janovský, Spejbl na Venuši (Spejbl on Venus), a satire of the Stalin cult.
After the death of Josef Skupa in 1957, the artistic initiative for the theatre was taken over by younger members of the ensemble – especially Jan Dvořák and Miloš Kirschner – who established the experimental group Salamandr to test new staging styles and new techniques, such as black theatre, thus broadening the expressive possibilities of puppets. Miloš Kirschner, who became the theatre manager of S+H Theatre in 1966, deserves the major credit for the further developments of the theatre. He followed Skupa in the voice interpretations of Spejbl and Hurvínek and also updated their characters and their repertoire. A number of experienced puppeteers grew up in the ensemble, including Bohuslav Šulc, Miroslav Vomela, Radek Haken, Miroslav Homola, Miroslav Černý and others.
As a consequence of the political situation in the 1970s, the repertoire became more and more focused on young audiences. Also at that time appeared the female counterparts of Spejbl and Hurvínek – Mánička and Madame Kateřina (alias Madame Hovorková or Grandma) – both characters interpreted by Helena Štáchová. The company, consisting of twelve puppeteers, devoted a great part of its activities to tours abroad in Europe as well as overseas (Germany, USSR, France, Hungary, Sweden, Japan, Australia and others). After the death of Miloš Kirschner in 1996, Helena Štáchová has led the theatre, and Martin Klásek has become the voices of Spejbl and Hurvínek, sharing the work of dramaturge with Denisa Kirschnerová, the daughter of Miloš Kirschner.
(See Czech Republic.)
- Divadlo Spejbla a Hurvínka [Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre]. (Almanac). Praha, 1972.
- Grym, Pavel. Klauni v dřevácích [Clowns in Wooden Shoes]. Praha: Panorama, 1988.
- Grym, Pavel. Hovory u Spejblů [Talks at the Spejbl’s]. Plzeň: Západočeské nakladatelství, 1990.