ONDREJ SPIŠÁK (1964, Nitra)

Graduated in direction and dramaturgy from the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre in Prague. Already as a student, he drew attention with his unconventional interpretation of the musical Painted On Glass staged under the title Jazzinbed. After graduation, he worked briefly for the AKABAL theatre ensemble and later for two seasons at the Puppet Theatre in Žilina. In 1990, Spišák left for Bratislava where he joined what was then the State Puppet Theatre. There, he created productions that were to set the theatre’s artistic trend for a long time and became its trademark shows. Spišák has closely cooperated with numerous puppet and drama theatres in Slovakia (Bratislava Puppet Theatre, Karol Spišák’s Old Theatre in Nitra, Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, Radošina Naïve Theatre in Bratislava, later also Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre), in the Czech Republic (Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, Moravian-Silesian National Theatre, Tešín Theatre) and in Poland (Lalka Teatr in Warsaw, Białostocki Teatr Lalek, Teatr Nowy in Lodž, Teatr Narodowy in Warsaw). In Poland, he became famous for his work in puppet and drama theatres – among his most outstanding productions were Our Class and Merlin. The Other History and Prophet Ilya. On those productions he closely collaborated also with Polish playwright Tadeusz Słobodzianek. In 1990, together with stage designer František Lipták and several actors, Spišák founded the Teatro Tatro nomadic theatre which has become a free company of directors, stage designers and actors. In 1992 he started working as a director for the Old Theatre in Nitra (today known as Karol Spišák’s Old Theatre in Nitra) and became its director in 2007. He worked there as a director until 2016. At present, he is a freelance director and is active in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. Several of his productions won a number of domestic, but mostly international theatre awards.

 

Description of his work:

Director Ondrej Spišák is a member of the older generation of contemporary Slovak theatre directors. After his studies in puppet and alternative theatre, Spišák became immediately involved with the community of the most progressive Slovak, Czech and Polish puppet artists and got established among them as a self-standing personality with unique poetics and recognizable directorial style. In his directorial work, he is inclined to alternative theatre forms which he got acquainted with during his studies in the Czech Republic and that he has fully employed not only in his puppet work, but also in drama productions. In his productions, he has used the rich tradition of puppet theatre in Slovakia (dating back to the 18th and 19thcenturies) as well as in the Czech Republic. He can surprise his audience with original puppets, unique and often unconventional connections between the plot and form, a distinct sense of humour and a very serious approach to the heroes in plays for children. He adjusts both classical and contemporary texts so as to fit children and young audiences to make theatre that communicates with its audience through images, sounds, symbols and metaphors. As far as puppets are concerned, Ondrej Spišák uses them only if they develop the performance means and represent something new – puppets never appear in his productions just for a self-serving purpose. The actor animating a puppet usually finds him- or herself in a different situation than the puppet itself.

Ondrej Spišák’s art is a manifestation of great talent and a sense for theatricality and artistic resourcefulness owing to which Spišák easily progresses through the text and creates a transparent, coherent, but mostly very compelling stage shows. Humour, one of the essential attributes of his directorial approach, often oscillates between coarseness and cynicism, but always inspires deeper reflection. Ondrej Spišák is a strikingly creative puppet and drama artist whose theatre work guarantees a unique experience that affirms the imaginative abilities of both youth and adult audiences.

On Slovak stages, Ondrej Spišák’s name is best known for his work for Teatro Tatro, which is a very untypical model of theatre in Slovakia. Within the very diverse Slovak theatre network, Teatro Tatro is an exceptional type of independent theatre performing either in a circus tent or caravan. Its creative team consists of long-time members, but is often complemented by artists who are contracted to do a particular project. The artistic aim is to produce shows of high quality that use a new, synthetic stage language to communicate with audiences. In a way, Teatro Tatro’s productions revive such former theatre approaches as nomadic theatres or wandering performances and also represent such current trends as street theatre or happenings. An integral part of Teatro Tatro’s productions is a strong visual element created by renowned visual artist and stage designer Fero Lipták. In tandem collaboration with Ondrej Spišák, Lipták creates captivating stage design with characteristic style using natural material and tasteful fantasy (almost fairy-tale-like) poetics. Productions of Teatro Tatro directed by Spišák are always the result of several months of concentrated preparation at the end of which there is a colourful stage world full of lights, music, quaint costumes and polyfunctional stage design, as well as acrobatic action, extraordinary acting, intelligent humour and unique allegories.

 

List of directed productions:

1986 / AKABAL Prague, Czech Republic / Ernest Bryll, Katarzyna Gärtnerová, Ondrej Spišák: Jazzinbed (Painted on Glass)

1987 / AKABAL Prague, Czech Republic / Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, Ondrej Spišák: The Portrait

1987 / State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava / Jules Verne, Ondrej Spišák: The Mysterious Castle

1988 / Slovak National Uprising Theatre, Martin / Horst Hawemann: The Cat

1990 / State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava / Johann Nepomuk Nestroy, Andrej Ferko: The Evil Spirit of Lumpacivagabundus

1990 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Michel de Ghelderode: Sir Halewyn

1991 / State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava / Paul Claudel: Christopher Columbus

1991 / State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava / Pavol Fejér, Róbert Laurinec, Martin Vanek, Ondrej Spišák: The Discovery of America

1991 / State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava / Jan Vladislav: About the Pouch With Two Pennies

1992 / State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava / Samuel Czambel: The Biggest Lie

1993 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / John Ronald Reuel Tolkien: Minas Tirith – Minas Morgul

1993 / Trnava Theatre, Trnava / Michel de Ghelderode: Red Magic

1994 / Teatr Lalka, Warsaw, Poland / Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe

1994 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / Rudyard Kipling: The Jungle Book

1994 / Teatr Lalka, Warsaw, Poland / John Ronald Reuel Tolkien: Farmer Giles of Ham

1994 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / Jozef Cíger Hronský, Ivan Gontko: Budkáčik and Dubkáčik

1994 / Andrej Bagar Theatre, Nitra / René de Obaldia: Wind in the Branches of the Sassafrass

1994 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra and Puppet Theatre Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: Let Us Go To Bethlehem Together

1995 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / Christopher Marlowe: Doctor Faustus

1995 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Miloš Štědroň, Milan Uhde: A Ballad for the Bandit

1995 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / Ivan Gontko, Jaroslav Vodrážka: Pirates

1995 / State Puppet Theatre in Bratislava / Jozef Mokoš, Ondrej Spišák: Mary

1995 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: Nicholas – And Off They Carry Him!

1996 / Białostocki Teatr Lalek, Białystok, Poland / Jonathan Swift: Gulliver

1996 / Theatre Society of Petr Bezruč, Ostrava, Czech republic / Yevgeny Doga, Emil Lotjanu, Jindřich Janda: A Ballad About the Horse Thief

1996 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / Ivan Gontko, Ondrej Spišák: Dream On Your Own

1996 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / unknown author: A Comedy About Francisca, Daughter of the King of England, and About Little John, Son of a London Merchant

1996 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: Daddy

1997 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: About the Creation of the World

1997 / Teatr Lalka, Warsaw, Poland / Jules Verne: A Journey To The Centre of the Earth

1998 / Baj Pomorski Theatre, Toruń, Poland / Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland

1998 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Pastime

1998 / Baj Pomorski Theatre, Toruń, Poland / Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote

1998 / Těšín Theatre, Český Těšín, Czech Republic / Gabriela Preissová: The Farm Mistress

1998 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: How I Wised Up

1998 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Ivan Gontko, Ondrej Spišák: P.F. ’99

1999 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: About Goblins

1999 / Těšín Theatre, Český Těšín, Czech Republic / Olga Tokarczuk, Piotr Tomaszuk: Prehistory and Other Times

1999 / Puppet Theatre Nitra / František Malec: What You Want From a Woman

1999 / Teatr Lalka, Warsaw, Poland / Homer: The Odyssey

1999 / Old Theatre Nitra / Miloš Janoušek, Viliam Klimáček: The Yellow Bus

1999 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Jan Weiss, Ondrej Spišák: Bianca Braselli, the Lady With Two Heads

2000 / Těšín Theatre, Český Těšín, Czech Republic / Jiří Bažant, Jiří Malásek, Vlastimil Hála, Vratislav Blažek, Ladislav Rychman: The Hop Pickers

2000 / Old Theatre Nitra / Josef Kainar: Goldilocks

2000 / Dance Studio Banská Bystrica and Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Renata Putzlacher: Flying Frida

2000 / Teatr Nowy, Łódź, Poland / Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe

2000 / Moravian-Silesian National Theatre, Ostrava / Dan Goggin: Nunsense

2000 / Old Theatre Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: The Legend of the Tatras

2000 / Teatr Nowy, Łódź, Poland / Pierre A. Beaumarchais: The Marriage of Figaro

2001 / Old Theatre Nitra / Maurice Maeterlinck: The Blue Bird

2001 / Moravian-Silesian National Theatre, Ostrava, Czech Republic / Jerome Klapka Jerome, Karel Tománek: Three Man On a Hike and A Black Dog

2001 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: Little Red Riding Hood, or Clowns Of All Countries, Unite!

2001 / Old Theatre Nitra / Jiří Brdečka, Vlastimil Hála, Jan Rychlík: Lemonade Joe

2002 / Old Theatre Nitra / Ľudmila Podjavorinská: Chin–Chin

2002 / Theatre Society of Petr Bezruč, Ostrava, Czech Republic / Vladislav Vančura, Evžen Sokolovský Sr.: Capricious Summer

2003 / Old Theatre Nitra / Hans Christian Andersen, Veronika Gabčíková, Ondrej Spišák: The Snow Queen

2003 / Moravian Theatre Olomouc, Czech Republic / Ariano Vilar Suassuna: Testament of a Dog, or a Play About Our Lovely Mrs. Compassionate

2003 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: Clowns Of All Countries, Unite! or Amore

2003 / Teatr Wybrzeże, Gdańsk, Poland / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: The Dream of a Bug, or Comrade Christ

2003 / Teatr Narodowy, Warsaw, Poland / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: Merlin. The Other History.

2003 / Karlovy Vary City Theatre, Czech Republic / Wolfgang A. Mozart, Emanuel Schikaneder: The Magic Flute

2004 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: The General

2004 / Old Theatre Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: The Biggest Lie

2004 / Teatr Lalka, Warsaw, Poland / Alexey Tolstoy, Ondrej Spišák: Buratino (The Golden Key)

2004 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: Clowns Of All Countries, Unite! or Clowns

2004 / Old Theatre Nitra / John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Ondrej Spišák: The Hobbit

2005 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: A Play About Love

2005 / Old Theatre Nitra / Zuzana Zemaníková, Ondrej Spišák: Tales From the Nitra Region

2005 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: Prophet Ilya

2005 / Andrej Bagar, Nitra / István Tasnádi: Public Enemy

2005 / Old Theatre Nitra / Tomáš Pěkný: The Stone Raven

2006 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: The Ten Commandments

2006 / Old Theatre Nitra / Josef Čapek, Ondrej Spišák: All About Doggie and Pussycat

2006 / Laboratorium Dramatu, Warsaw, Poland / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: Malambo the Blacksmith

2007 / Old Theatre Nitra / Ondřej Sekora: Gotham

2007 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Karel Čapek: R.U.R.

2007 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: Creation of the World

2007 / Old Theatre Nitra / Edward Lear, Ondrej Spišák: How Many Strawberries Grow in the Sea?

2008 / Old Theatre Nitra / Pavol Dobšinský, Veronika Gabčíková, Ondrej Spišák: Godmother Death and the Miraculous Doctor

2008 / Old Theatre Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: Slovak Bethlehem

2008 / City Theatres of Prague (ABC Theatre), Prague, Czech Republic / Jiří Janků, Ondrej Spišák: Tristan and Isolde

2009 / Andrej Bagar Theatre, Nitra / William Shakespeare: King Lear

2009 / Baj Pomorski Theatre, Toruń, Poland / Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s Travels

2009 / Summer Shakespeare Festival, Bratislava / William Shakespeare: Macbeth

2009 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Ondrej Spišák: The Magical Theatre Vending Machine

2009 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: It Is A Blank

2009 / Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DISK Theatre), Prague, Czech Republic / Ondrej Spišák: Creation

2010/ Teatr na Woli im. Tadeusza Łomnickiego, Warsaw, Poland / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: Our Class

2010 / Karol Spišák’s Old Theatre in Nitra / Rudyard Kipling, Ondrej Spišák: The Jungle Book

2010 / Moravian-Silesian National Theatre, Ostrava, Czech Republic/ Marek Pivovar: A Comedy About The Devil’s Snares

2010 / Laboratorium Dramatu, Warsaw, Poland / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: Merlin. The Other History.

2010 / Karol Spišák’s Old Theatre in Nitra / Jozef Mokoš: Jánošík

2011 / Karol Spišák’s Old Theatre in Nitra / Julian Tuwim, Veronika Gabčíková, Ondrej Spišák: A Journey Into the Land of Tuwim

2011 / Teatr na Woli im. Tadeusza Łomnickiego, Warsaw, Poland / Kornel Makuszyński: Matolek the Little Goat

2011 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: They Just Came

2012 / ASTORKA Korzo ’90 Theatre / William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

2012 / Summer Shakespeare Festival, Ostrava, Czech Republic / William Shakespeare: Love’s Labour’s Lost

2012 / Karol Spišák’s Old Theatre in Nitra / Bram Stoker, Veronika Gabčíková, Ondrej Spišák: Dracula

2012 / Drak Theatre, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic / Isaac Bashevis Singer, Dominika Špalková: Fortune and Misfortune

2012 / Teatr na Woli im. Tadeusza Łomnickiego, Warsaw, Poland / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: Prophet Ilya

2013 / Kőszegi Várszínház a Mesebolt Bábszínház, Hungary / Jorge Luis Borges: The Last Vacation and Salvation of Baltasar Espinosa

2013 / Teatro Tatro, Nitra / Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov, Ondrej Spišák: The Master and Margarita

2013 / Teatr Dramatyczny, Warsaw, Poland / Tadeusz Słobodzianek: Young Stalin. A Probable History.

2013 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: Out of the Blue

2014 / Karol Spišák’s Old Theatre in Nitra / Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, Veronika Gabčíková, Ondrej Spišák: Hansel and Gretel

2014 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Ľubomír Feldek: How Timberbreaker Became King

2014 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: Glory

2015 / Drak Theatre, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic / Jan Amos Komenský, Marie Nováková, Dominika Špalková, Tomáš Žižka, Ondrej Spišák: The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart

2015 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Daniel Majling: The Labyrinths and Paradises of Jan Amos

2015 / Teatr im. Heleny Modrzejewskiej, Legnica, Poland / Peter Brook, Jean-Claude Carrière: The Conference of the Birds, based on a poem by Farid Uddin Attar

2015 / Dejvice Theatre Prague, Czech Republic / William Shakespeare: The Winter’s Tale

2016/ Teatro Tatro / Daniil Charms, Ondrej Spišák: Circus Charms

2016 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: There’s No Fault

2017 / Radošina Naïve Theatre, Bratislava / Stanislav Štepka: Besame mucho

 

Awards:

1994 / ASISTEJ Award of Jan Dorman and the “Atest” Award (Award of the highest artistic quality and level) for the creators of the production Robinson Crusoe

1994 / Grand Prix – Złoty Piernik Torunia (Golden Torun Gingebread) for Robinson Crusoe at the 1st Toruńskie Spotkania Teatrów Lalek festival (1stMeetings of Puppet Theatres in Torun)

1997 / ASISTEJ Award and the “Atest” Award (Award of the highest artistic quality and level) for the creators of the production Gulliver

2000 / Award for the direction of The Odyssey at the 7th Międzynarodowe Toruńskie Spotkania Teatrów Lalek festival (7th International Meetings of Puppet Theatres in Torun)

2000 / Award for the direction of Gulliver at the 33rd International Festival of Puppet Theatres PIF in Zagreb, Croatia (Međunarodni festival kazališta lutaka PIF)

2001 / Award for the direction of The Odyssey at the 34th International Festival of Puppet Theatres PIF in Zagreb, Croatia (Međunarodni festival kazališta lutaka PIF)

2006 / Award for the direction of Buratino at the 13th Międzynarodowe Toruńskie Spotkania Teatrów Lalek festival (13th International Meetings of Puppet Theatres in Torun)

2011 / The Warsaw Felix – award for best direction of the 2010/2011 season for Our Class produced at the Warsaw-based theatre Teatr na Woli

2012 / Main Prize “Broken Latch” at the 23rd International theatre festival “Without Borders” in Český Těšín for Our Class

2015 / Main Prize of the Tatrabanka Foundation for art; for the direction of The Master and Margarita

 

Videos from productions:

 

Prophet Ilya, 2005

video: archive Teatro Tatro

 

A Midsummer Night´s Dream, 2012

video: archív Divadla ASTORKA Korzo ´90

 

The Labyrinths and Paradises of Jan Amos, 2015

video: archive SND

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