State Puppet Theatre of Varna has been established in 1952. More than 360 performances have been implemented on its stage over past years, watched by millions of spectators both in Bulgaria and abroad.
The theatre has its own building in the city centre – a valuable architectural monument that is originally adapted to the needs of a modern cultural institute. An area of 2,440 square meters accommodates a 130-seat hall, a rehearsing hall, dressing rooms, administration premises, workshops, Museum of Puppets and Summer Stage. The theatre hall and the Museum of Puppets are equipped with ramps for disabled persons.
The 40-member theatre staff includes 19 actors – graduates from the theatre academy NATFA, artistic workshop experts, technical staff, administration.
Performances for spectators of various ages: classical and modern titles for children, funny and vanguard performances for adults as well as educational performances for students.
The theatre repertoire titles reveal the large capacities for expression of puppet art in its various styles: all systems of classical puppets, improvised puppets, shadow theatre, masks, black camera, projections on a screen, plastics, visual effects, etc.
An art studio is also operated for artistic projects not included in the repertoire programme. Performances for children and the performances for adults The Cave and the Shadows and Mozart and Salieri have been also staged.
In 2010, the State Puppet Theatre Varna was awarded the Icarus National Prize for high achievements in the field of theatre art. 2013 IKAR Award for most successful management and marketing. IKAR Award 2014 for Best Performance for Legally Liar directed by Stefan Moskov.Special IKAR Award 2015 for striking imagery for Silent Legends
State Puppet Theatre - Varna has won the Great prize Golden Dolphin six times (1978, 1981, 1996, 2005, 2011, 2017), the Special prize (2002), it had won, not only once, the Varna prize, and also a great number of collective and individual prizes. In the past several years, great national and foreign prizes had been won by the following performances:
* Folklore Fantasies - Varna prize (2002), the prize of audience - Puppet Festival, Tolosa, Spain (2003), Best Performance Prize at the 5th Asian International Puppet Festival in Taipei, Taiwan (2004); the performance has been chosen by the State Tourist Agency to present the Bulgarian culture on the World Tourist Exhibitions in London (England) -2006, Thessalonica (Greece) - 2006, Moscow (Russia) - 2007, Stuttgart (Germany) - 2007; award for the acting ensemble at the 8th International Festival of Performances for Children The Magic Curtain, Targovishte, Bulgaria (2007).
* Thumbelina - Best Performance Prize at the 6th Asian International Puppet Festival in Taipei, Taiwan (2005), award for Outstanding Performance at the International Festival of Puppet Theatres - Shanghai, China (2005), award for the Best vision of children performances at the International Puppet Festival Three are Too Many, Two - Not Enough, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (2006); two awards at the 13th IPF The Golden Dolphin, Varna, Bulgaria (2005).
* A Story About the Singing Tree - the Great prize "Golden Dolphin" for entire performance and four individual prizes at the 13th IPF The Golden Dolphin (2005); awards for directing and artistry at the 7th International Festival of Children`s Theatres - Banja Luka 2008, RS.
* The Cave and the Shadows - Varna prize (2007); chosen to present contemporary Bulgarian culture at the International Tourist Fair in Stuttgart, Germany (2007); award for Experimental and New Forms at the 5th International Puppet Theatre Festival for Adults Pierrot, Stara Zagora , Bulgaria (2007); prize for Development of the theatre's means of expression at the 14th International Puppet Festival The Golden Dolphin, Varna, Bulgaria (2008).
* Outlook of a Stump - IKAR Award 2011 for staging to Tedy Moskov; 15th International Puppet Festival The Golden Dolphin 2011- The big prize The Golden Dolphin for an overall performance(section performances for adults), Prize for directing, Prize for artistry to the artistic team, Scenography prize; Varna Prize 2012
* Legally Liar - IKAR Award 2014 for Best Performance; ASKEER Award 2014 for staging to Stefan Moskov; Award for staging to Stefan Moskov at the 23rd International Festival Drumev Theatre Celebrations. New Bulgarian Drama 2014– Shumen, Award for best male performance to Krasimir Dobrev at the 16th International Puppet Festival The Golden Dolphin, Varna, Bulgaria 2014
* Little Wizards - Award for Best Actor to Krasimir Dobrev and 3rd Award to Little Wizards bestowed by the Foundation for Eastern European Projects, Dordrecht, Holland at the 21st International Puppet Theatre Festival Three are to many - two not enough, Plovdiv 2014; Award for best direction to Vera Stoykova, Award for set design Svila Velichkova, Award for artistry (section performances for children) to the artistic team , Award for best male performance to Krasimir Dobrev, Award for best female performance to Evgeniya Vasileva at the 16th International Puppet Festival The Golden Dolphin, Varna, Bulgaria 2014; 19thNational Puppet Theatre Festival "Mihail Lakatnik", Yambol, 2015, Bulgaria- The Big Prize for the performance Little Wizards
* Silent Legends - Award for best direction and choreography (section performances for adults) to Boian Ivanov and Tatyana Sokolova , Award for set design Svila Velichkova , Award for for video and CGI animation to Todor Todorov , Award for original music (section performances for adults) to IRFAN, Award for best female performance to Evgeniya Vasileva at the 16th International Puppet Festival The Golden Dolphin, Varna, Bulgaria 2014; Special IKAR Award 2015 for striking imagery for Silent Legends
* Orpheus - The Grand Prix "The Golden Dolphin" is bestowed to Varna State Puppet Theatre, Bulgaria for the visual performance based on motifs from ancient mythology „ORPHEUS”. Director – Boian Ivanov, stage design and costumes – Svila Velichkova, choreography – Tatyana Sokolova, music - Hristo Namliev, video mapping: Todor Todorov; Best Original Music Award to HRISTO NAMLIEV – for the performance „Orpheus” by State Puppet Theatre - Varna, Bulgaria and for the performance „The Queen of Spades” by State Puppet Theatre - Plovdiv, Bulgaria; DEBUT Award by the Union of Bulgarian Actors is bestowed to MILYANA NOSHKOVA – for her part of Eurydice in the performance „Orpheus” by State Puppet Theatre - Varna, Bulgaria; Best Technical Team Award is bestowed to the technical staff of State Puppet Theatre - Varna, Bulgaria for the performance „Orpheus” at the 17th International Puppet Festival “The Golden Dolphin”, Varna, 2017
State Puppet Theatre - Varna is one of the most preferred participants in world cultural forums and puppet-theater festivals. It has been a guest artist in Great Britain, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland,Holland,Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Algeria, Taiwan, India, Japan, China, USA, Israel, Irland, Cuba, Canada, Mexico, South Korea….
Since 1972, the theatre has been promoting and hosting the prestigious The Golden Dolphin International Puppet Festival. The festival takes place every three years in early October in Varna and is a centre of the best achievements of puppet theatre art from all over the world.
Over last years, the Puppet Theatre of Varna has been actively working on projects in the field of the out-of-school education and leisure attended by hundreds of children and teenagers.
Since April 2008, Varna Puppet Theatre is a base of the newly established non-profit Puppet Therapy Association.
The Association aims at promoting and implementation of the idea of using the puppet during the treatment and education process as a mediator between the treating (educating) staff and the treated (educated) persons; collaboration with the Puppets and Therapy International Association and other similar organizations.
Museum of Puppets
A Museum of Puppets has been opened in 1985 at the theatre – the only one of this kind in Bulgaria and one of the very few puppet museums in Europe. The exposition presents near 140 theatre puppets and scenery elements from 24 emblematic performances played from 1952 to 2002.