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Object of the week: Vocal wonders Spejbl and Hurvínek

by | Sep 14, 2020 | A look in the depot

Two well known puppets in the international puppet theatre scene are Czechoslovakian puppets; Spejbl and Hurvínek.

Spejbl was designed by the Pilsener secondary school teacher Josef Skupa (1892 -1957) and carved by Karel Nosek in 1919/20; he was supposed to be a funny and rather small minded character, but he wasn’t completely successful. Later, the carver’s nephew Gustav Nosek invented Spejbl’s eye-rolling son Hurvínek and gave him to Josef Skupa in 1926.

With that the dialogues full of jokes, absurdities and misunderstandings suddenly came to life.

Just one narrator traditionally brings both characters to life vocally, and high standards are set for the different vocal qualities of the characters

In addition, he should always be able to speak the texts of both puppets in the respective national language of the host country while on tour.

The cheeky sketches of both characters quickly became internationally known and popular through recordings, films and tours. Arrested in early 1944, Skupa was able to escape from the prison passing through the fire-storm of Dresden to the relative safety of Prague in 1945. Spejbl and Hurvínek ‘survived’ in a Gestapo safe in Pilsen. Skupa opened his permanent theatre in Prague with them in September 1945. Thanks to his tours, television recordings, films and his outstanding successors Miloš Kirschner (1927-1996) and Helena Štáchová (1944-2019), his puppet theatre remains one of the best-known puppet theatres in the world today. Incidentally, our theatre even gave a guest performance in the Lübeck Kolosseum on the third of February 1990.

The popular Spejbl and Hurvínek team now exists in many variations and sizes. Our Lübeck collection also includes two full-size figures.

The Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre proudly celebrates it’s centenary this year, 2020!

And this is how Spejbl and Hurvínek sound:

Please let us know in the comments section below which speaker is your favourite

The voice of Josef Skupa:

… and now, with the voice of Milos Kirschner…

How do you like the new voices of Spejbl and Hurvénkek?

If you are as interested in the topic of vocal delivery through the fantastic medium of puppet theatre as we are, avail yourself of Silke Technau’s article on the special exhibition Voice of Puppetry at the Museum for Puppet Theatre Culture.

Mehr einblicke in die Arbeit im Depot

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