One of many curiosities of Vienna is that world's oldest television show for children "Kasperl & Pezi" was aired from this city. Two elementary school teachers Hans Kraus and Marianne Kraus have set up a Puppet theatre, which is since 1950 located in the Urania building. From the beginning, the theatre for the young ones was very popular among Viennese. Since 1968, the subscription for the puppet theatre was introduced because it was constantly sold out and hardly any ticket was left for the box office. It was almost impossible to get the ticket. For example, in the season 1993/94, the Puppet theatre was the most attended theatre in Austria. In the first 50 years, more than 2.5 million visitors have seen the performance. Therefore, the Austrian national broadcaster has decided to make it a part of its radio in 1953, and four years later, the TV program as well.
Since 1957, the characters Kasperl and Pezi can be seen weekly at ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation). Puppets Kasperl & Pezi are probably the most famous children figures in the German-speaking countries. The first "studio" was housed in a school in the Singrienergasse, and it was a regular classroom in the school. There was no stage but just rows of racks. The classroom was very small, so the camera occasionally worked through the door from the corridor. In the beginning, Hans Kraus was responsible for almost everything - music, dramaturgy and making puppets. He even played and spoke most of the male roles. His wife Marianne Kraus was responsible for making the costumes, and she played the most of female roles, but also a little bear Pezi. Because Pezi became the public favourite spin-off, the “Petz Family” got its separate show. "Kasperl & Strolchi" came on television in 1961, making it the second-oldest television puppet stage. Since 1984, there are also "Kasperl and Hopsi". In 2008, the program was renamed "Servus Kasperl", and it still airs every Saturday and Sunday in ORF 1.
Video © Credits to Dietmar Fink
The puppet character Kasperl is known in the German-speaking countries since the end of the 18th century. He got his name after one of the Three Wise Men, who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing the gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh. Kasperl usually wears a long pointy cap, a dress with a colourful pattern and has a swatter as a symbolic weapon. A form of comedy - Slapstick Comedy, a body-related, wordless, visual form of comedy - got its name from this baton. Kasperl is a funny, clownish and satirical character. He is brave but not showing off. Originally, it was a very rough character meant for the fun of the adults and teenagers. It was even banned for immorality, and sometimes the puppeteers were expelled or punished. However, today it serves almost exclusively as the entertainment of younger children.
Petzi is a small bear, living with his family - grandfather, father and mother Petz. Father Petz works in the circus and comes home only on weekends. Pezi experiences many adventures with his friend Fips, a mouse, and the rabbit Hoppl, the cat Minki, the dragon Dagobert and the goat Meckerle.
Urania puppet theatre lives, grows and changes. The stage is technically up-to-date, both in lighting and sound. Some high-tech features, such as different video projections were introduced along. The stage has been enlarged constantly. Therefore, in the Urania, you get a full experience. You can see the newest movie or gaze at the stars in the observatory, but the only thing that can wake up a child in you are Kasperl & Pezi, that you can see live in the Puppet Theatre.
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