Austrian glove puppet theatre for children established by elementary school teachers Hans (1923-1995) and Marianne Kraus (1926-1999). The Theater der Kleinen (Theatre for Little Ones The Little Theatre), as it was first called, was installed in the couple’s own apartment. The first puppet heads came from the workshops of Hohensteiner in Germany. The accessories and apparatus for the movement of the figures were designed by Hans Kraus while the costumes were designed by Marianne Kraus. The very first public show, a performance of Kasperl and Pezi (a bear cub) was held in 1949 in an inn in Vienna.

In 1950, the Theater der Kleinen signed a contract with Urania, a public educational institute in Vienna and, later, moved into its premises. The couple produced the first Kasperl puppet shows for radio as early as 1952, and the first children’s shows for television were broadcast in 1957. They also staged several fairy tales (The Frog Prince, Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty), produced a cabaret show with musical numbers and black theatre, and presented a series of short stories about the Petz family, the parents of Pezi.

At the Urania Puppentheater, Kasperl (alias Hans Kraus) was a child and the bear Pezi (alias Marianne Kraus) was his friend. The courage of Pezi’s “tritratralala!” and his warm companionship quickly became famous with audiences. The extraordinary adventures of the two friends (Saving the Princess or the Unicorn) were always edifying.

The Kraus couple ran the Urania Puppentheater until 1995. After the death of Professor Hans Kraus, the role of Kasperl was taken over by Manfred Müller and, after the death of Marianne Krauss, he took over the management of the theatre.

Shortly before she passed away, Marianne Kraus founded in 1999 a puppet museum called “Pezi-Haus” (Pezi’s House).

(See Austria.)