Gulliver (c) MITEM

‘Gulliver’s Travels’: A lesson in satire for children

The program of the 10th edition of the Madách International Theatre Meeting (MITEM), which is an echo of the International Theatre Olympiad, seems to be diverse and varied, but in fact, it is calibrated and stylistically very precise. 

There are dramas, documentary stories, plays based on films, classics, experimental contemporary drama, and even puppet theatre… However, through this whirlwind of theatre flows the cross-cutting theme of multiculturalism and respect for individuality in all its manifestations. Non-acceptance of non-acceptance. Harmony and unity of the different. Gulliver’s Travels, albeit in a simplified children’s format, continues this line.

Gulliver’s magical adventures have been captivating the imagination of readers for centuries. In the puppet theatre, the play with scale and transformations looks especially spectacular. Director Jiří Hajdyla tried to create a performance that would be interesting and understandable for children, but that would not bore adults either. He succeeded, and the key to the fascinating stage action was Jonathan Swift’s satire. The director was aware that the main audience of the performance better perceives bright colors rather than halftones and rightly decided that the satire used in the performance should be as simple and understandable as possible.

The most dynamic and catchy moments have been chosen from the large work, which divides the play into four parts according to the number of four fairytale countries visited by the protagonist: the country of Lilliput, where ruthless tiny creatures live, the country of Brobdingnag, inhabited by giants, the country of Laputa, where dreamers and madmen live, and the country of Houyhnhnms, where wise horses live. Each of Gulliver’s fascinating journeys gave an opportunity to present different types of puppets in the performance: marionettes, mannequins, and masks…

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