Witness the Grand Puppet Theatre: Augsburger Puppenkiste
Europe, especially Germany has had a strong theatre culture since the Classical times. Augusburger Puppenkiste was designed so that it could resonate the marionette theatre culture in the city of Augsburg, Germany. It has been functioning and producing adaptations of many fairy tales and other serious pieces since 1948. The theatre is also regarded for its television production of programs such as Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer, Urmel aus dem Eis, and many others.
The theatre is locate in the grand historic centre of Augsburg where once was located Heilig-Geist-Spital, in Augsburg, Germany.
The historicity behind Augsburger Puppenkiste
It is known to have begun with The Puppenkiste (The Puppet Chest) in 1943. Walter Oehmichen, Rose Oehmichen, his wife, and Hannelore and Ulla, their daughters – they together founded a small puppet theatre and christened it as the Puppenschrein. The theatre comprised of a wooden stage which could easily be set up in the frame of a door. Moreover, this stage became a victim of a fire which happened dude to a bombing fiasco in Augusburg. On the other hand, the figures survived just by a matter of chance. But, the theatre and the Puppenschrein which were inside the building were completely charred. Today, only a small portion of the original shrine survives.
Walter Oehmichen is credited for his ingenious design of the puppet box. This was an intricate design and could be operated easily. His idea of the wooden transport box was also fantastic because that box was big enough to house the puppets within them. The top covering of the box has an inscription which reads: Augsburger Puppenkiste and Oehmichens marionette theatre. These lids are the prominent trade mark of the theatre company. So much so that each of their films as a matter of fact begins with a small scene of the top lid.
During the post-war times, Walter Oehmichen conceived of a new puppet theatre. His hopes and designs came to life at the location where Heilig-Geist Hospital was located. There he found a room to perform his shows which he had to share with the Office of Statistics. Furthermore, the family was able to open their marionette theatre in full swing with their production on the 26th of February 1948 of the play Der gestiefelte Kater (Puss in Boots). They had hired actors from Augsburg itself. Thereon the theatre grew and prospered, and Manfred Jenning, a famous actor was hired to be among the staff writers for the Augsburger Puppenkiste. Furthermore, he would also establish puppet cabaret shows especially for the adults at the year end and this also would become a matter of tradition and be a part of many productions.
Walter and Rose Oehmichen died in 1977 and 1985 respectively, and upon their death, their daughter Hannelore and her husband Hanns-Joachim Marschall inherited the theatre. Moreover, Hannelore and Hanns-Joachim’s son, Klaus Marschall started working in the theatre in the 1980’s and took over its management in 1992. Later the same decade Hanns-Joachim Marschall died in 1999 but his wife Hannelore would continue to work for the theatre and supported it by carving figures. Jürgen, the brother of Klaus would also get more involved in the daily operations of the theatre. He along with his mother produced some of the most fascinating puppets. During this time the theatre grew exponentially and its old residence the Rotes-Tor building thus became rather small to function in and therefore the city of Augsburg provided them with a brand new theatre hall. This new complex was finished in the month of October 2000. Four years later, in 2004, the theatre won the prestigious Golden Camera award for their films.