Vyacheslav Ignatov, Maria Litvinova

Directors, designers. Two of their productions won the National Theatre Award THE GOLDEN MASK. They created Trickster Theatre (2011), which was born thanks to the previous work of the directors in Theatre Tenj [Shadow].

Two of their productions won the National Theatre Award THE GOLDEN MASK (The Epic of Lilikan in the category: Best Production in Puppet Theatre, 2010; A Journey to the Country of Jumblies received the special prize of the jury of musical theatre, 2016). They created Trickster Theatre (2011), which was born thanks to the previous work of the directors in Theatre Tenj [Shadow].

Viacheslav and Maria direct productions in Russia and abroad. In their work they combine musical theatre and puppet theatre, when the singers during the performance work with puppets and objects. They did several productions in the style of cyberpunk. The duo pays a lot of attention to interactive communication: during their performances, the audience members often do not stay in their seats, but have an impact on the development of the story. They work predominantly for children, elaborating and following the theory of non-conflict drama for the young audience.

The principal productions:

The Fairy Tale That Had Not Been Written – 2005, Praktika Theatre, Trickster Theatre

The Epic of Lilikan – 2009, Moscow Theatre Shadow

Noah’s Ark – 2016, Children’s Musical Theatre named after N. I. Sats

Children of Heaven – 2012, Theatre of Ob and Ugric People Solntse [The Sun], Khanty-Mansiysk

The Fairy Tales of Robots about the Real Man – 2014, Trickster Theatre, Praktika Theatre

Once Upon a Snowflake - 2014, Paper Balloon Theatre, London

Alltägliche Apokalypsen – 2014, Trickster Theatre and Svetlana Fourer Ensemble, Cologne

A Journey to the Country of Jumblies (Opera) – 2014, Perm Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after P. I. Tchaikovsky

Little Tragedies – 2017, Kaliningrad Regional Drama Theatre

Octopus’s Garden – 2017, Perm Theatre of Opera and Ballet

“We are not interested in staging simple stories. Our productions are for families: adults can access the deep layer of meanings, and children, through form and story, perceive the performance on the emotional level. We try to create a full-fledged production for the audience of every age – for parents and children alike.”
Anton Ivanov, "Musical Klondike"
“However, when I studied, my goal was to become a director in puppet theatre. The cause of decay is in general inertia. Some people think: ‘Why create good productions, waste you energy and money, if the audience comes to see bad productions as well?’ Meanwhile, a lazy audience member chooses the title, not the production. He or she looks at the poster and says – ah, Cinderella, I know what it is about. Such audience member is not interested in the quality of puppets, the level of directing, or acting skills. As a result, no one treats puppet theatre seriously. We try to change this situation, to prove that puppet theatre is art as well. We stage productions for children which their parents would be interested in and productions for adults which their children could also understand. We are luring the audience in a very cunning way. Perhaps, some day they will understand how beautiful puppets are.”
Sasha Soldatova, "Karabas"


Name. Maria Litvinova

Date and place of birth. 18.08.1982. Moscow

SPbGATI, department of puppet theatre,
VGIK, animation director,
The School of Theatre Leader at Meyerhold Center

In a nutshell, tell us about your career. From 2001 to 2010 I worked as an actress in Theatre Shadow. From 2005 to 2015 – an actress and director in Praktika Theatre. Since 2010 – head of the independent Trickster Theatre.  I made three animated movies which became participants and winners of international festivals. From  2001 to 2017, in collaboration with Viacheslav Ignatov, we created over than 20 productions in puppet, drama, and opera companies of Russia, Germany, and England. Two productions became the winners of THE GOLDEN MASK award in 2010 and 2016.

Member of the Theatre Union of Russia.

Favorite authors, subjects, stories. Stanisław Lem, Felix Krivin. By the way, it is good when new work is created for theatre, when new stories and unknown titles emerge, when original music is written.

Favorite traditional puppet system/texture:

Shadow theatre.

Does a performance need text? It depends on the production and idea, which we want to bring to life.

Is the expression “puppet theatre” still relevant today? It is relevant, if a company creates only puppet theatre. However, modern puppet theatre often steps into the territory of wider forms – visual theatre or theatre of the artist. Anyway, we try to create cross-genre productions.

What, in your opinion, is the difference between puppet theatre in Russia and the West? In Russia directors tend to stage productions for adults, and principal breakthroughs happen in such productions, whereas the majority of productions for children remain low-quality.  The problem of professional school is that students are still taught the outdated canons of puppet theatre. They are not taught to think visually, but puppet theatre is, in the first place, visual theatre. The audience goes to theatre to watch – not to listen, it goes there to be surprised.  And puppet theatre also has the instruments in order to surprise the audience. Yet in Russia it lags behind: new materials and technologies are not used, new subjects are not covered; if you compared repertoires of various puppet theatres of our country, 80% of titles would be repeated.  Puppet theatre actors do not have the skills of improvisation and text work. Yes, many of them can skillfully work with puppets, but for contemporary theatre this is not enough. An actor of visual theatre should be versatile.

What is useful about collaboration and cultural exchange? Sharing experience always helps to move forward.

Mass Media Feedback:

"Trickster is a theatre, which was created 12 years ago by a director and an actress, a director and a director, a husband and a wife, a father and a mother… In a nutshell, Viacheslav Ignatov and Maria Litvinova. Masha and Slava create joint productions and work on their own – in Russia, England, Germany, Khanty-Mansiysk, Perm, and Moscow, in Trickster Theatre, Praktika Theatre, and S. A. D. Theatre… It comes as a surprise that they studied in St. Petersburg (in St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy) and Moscow (Masha at VGIK, majoring in directing and animation, Slava – at the High Courses for Scriptwriters and Directors)."

Polina Sanayeva


"As a matter of fact, when you watch these productions, it seems to you that those have been invented by representatives of another civilization. And that is partly true. Thus, the directors received THE GOLDEN MASK for The Epic of Lilikan in Theatre Shadow in 2010. And The Fairy Tales of Robots about the Real Man are Lem in ‘steampunk’, created in the stylistics which implies an alternative version of the development of humanity, a civilization, launched by steam engines. The production, however, is about love. "

Polina Sanayeva


“Lem’s fairy tale was directed by Slava Ignatov and Masha Litvinova. Masha and Slava are students of our best puppeteer Ilya Epelbaum, so their imagination is in perfect order. Thus, the robots, made in steampunk style (fashionable this season), are real works of art, and one wants to have a close look at each of them. However, not just the puppets, but the entire entourage – where something is constantly moving, turning, emitting smoke, and twinkling – contributes to the atmosphere of the performance. The stars are running across the ceiling and moving in different directions, the darkness of the auditorium is pierced by the rays of light, and the screen shows a five-minute explanation of the entire theory of evolution on the earth in the genre of comics.”

Marina Shimadina

Performances on the site:

Fables For Robots On Real People

Theatre «Trixter»