The origin of the Puppet Show Theatre in Nitra is connected with the Regional Theatre in Nitra (now The Theatre of Andrej Bagar), when on January 1, 1951 was established professional Puppet group. The first stage play was a play of the Soviet author M. V. Polivanova Merry bear cubs directed by Paul Horvárth, who belongs to one of the founders of the theatre. In the year 1952, the puppeteers moved to the premises at that time, called the Regional Pionier house located on the street Janko Kráľ no. 1. Artistic direction was determined by playwright and director Ján Romanovský. In the late 50’s Nitra´s puppeteers gained nationwide appreciation thanks to masterpiece techniques of puppets animation. The artistically most successful and attractive productions of this period was stage play Šibal Pakala (1959). The director of this play was Florica Teodoru from Romania. In july of 1960 the Puppet group went through transformation which led to the independence of Western Slovak Puppet Show Theater. J. Romanovský ´s strong views on the form of puppet theater were supported by playwright Milan Ivák. In the 60´s the creation of theater was the period of balance and stability. Successes of the group were based on perfectly prepared artistic experienced ensemble. The theatre cooperated with major artists from Slovakia and the Czech Republic too. Thanks to that there were created a several of interesting stage plays like a play of G. Diezmananna – With wind of race (1964), directed by Karel Brožek and innovative puppet title by Ľ. Feldek – Joker Botafogo (1967) directed by Jan Hyžnay, who later became the permanent director of the theater. In the year of 1970 was a change of the name of the institution on the Puppet Show Theatre of the Nitra and ending J. Romanovský directing career. Internal director became Ján Hižnay. The building of theater was for a long time in desolate condition, what led in the year of 1977 to the inhibition to use this premises for public purposes. Nitra´s puppeteers were forced to reorientate fully to touring repertoire. Therefore the Puppet Show Theater started to fade from awareness of Nitra´s public. Despite of this adverse conditions, managment of the theatre was successfully securing repertoire with which they were able to represent in abroad. Under Hižnay´s leadership arose stage play of Božena Lenčová About Rama and Nets (1971), which belongs to one of the most important puppet show production which were created by us in the 70´s. Nitra´s puppeteers introduced this stage play in Bulgaria and Cairo, Egypt with a big success. During the 70 ´s and 80 ´s the Nitra ´s puppeteers introduced other stage plays in Belgium, India, Iraq and repeatedly in France. Masters of Nitra´s puppeteers school were asked by TV to create puppet show series for children.
Difficult situation with premises were bothering Nitra´s puppeteers as long as fifteen years until they gained the former theatre building of the Theatre of Andrej Bagar in the year 1993. The first premiere, which they introduced in their „new“ building was the adaptation of tale by Vincent Šikula About the wise KOKOŠKO directed by Peter Gábor. The year 1994 was decisive for the future of the theater by coming Karol Spišák on the post of director of theatre and Ondrej Spišák as an internal director of the theater. O. Spišák recorded the numerous creative successes and thanks to his inventiveness Nitra´s puppeteers were representing for a long time the peak of the art of the Slovak puppet show theaters. Participation in the festivals, the theatre created itself a strong reputation throughout Central Europe. The most important stage play of this period was the Faust. Author ´s of this text O. Spišák and I. Gontko produced the topics of the works of Ch. Marlow Doctor Faustus and the Faust of J. W. Goethe. It was a current interpretation with live rock band. This stage play attracted especially the youth audience to the theatre who before did not have interest to visit the puppet show. Since 1999 year this theater was called the Old Theatre in town of Nitra. In this period of time, the theater recorded its greatest artistic achievements.
The Nitra´s deputies united the name of Karol Spišák with the name of theatre in 2009. In the year 2011 the Old Theatre of Karol Spišák celebrated sixty years since its beginning. Mayor of the town Nitra Jozef Dvonč granted to the theatre his award prize for artistic activity and representation of the town at home and abroad too.
Among the members of the artistic ensemble who was awarded with this prize of mayor was the actress Oľga Schrameková.
Personalities of the Old Theatre
Ján Romanovský (* 4 January 1916 – + 8 May 1989) came to town Nitra from the town Topoľčany as an experienced amateur actor and puppeteer. Artistic direction took over in August 1, 1951. In this period gained popularity in Europe javajka puppet, by then little known and difficult to handle. J. Romanovský decided to challenge this difficult guiding of new exotic puppets. The determination and systematic work of artistic director allowed the puppeteers to use marionettes´s full range of motion, and impersonate her with delicate gestures. The introduction of the thumb´s grip was able to control two extremities of the puppet with only one hand. Specific procedures of guiding puppeteers were named by experts as Romanovský´s or Nitra´s puppeteers school. Leader of Nitra´s puppeteers in his numerous directions laid emphasis on perfection of the Slovak language and clarity of stage speech
As one of the first puppeteers realized the urgent need for original stage plays for puppeteers groups. He focused on a dramatization of Slovak folk tales.
The creator of the uniform guiding puppeteers school is now recognized as one of the founders of modern Slovak puppet show theater. J. Romanovský worked at the Puppet Show Theatre in town of Nitra till the year of 1973.
Karol Spišák (* 17 August 1941 – + March 13, 2007) had studied directing art at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of J. Budský. In 1965 he became the director in Regional Theater in Nitra (since 1979 Andrej Bagar Theatre). He became one of the profiling theatre´s director and later he became artistic director. He offered viewers a serious topics but mainly comedic repertoire. As the first in Slovakia was directing the musical. Hospitable he directed in several Slovak theaters and was intensively cooperating with film and television. In 1994 he became director of the Puppet Show Theatre in town of Nitra. He became a support for long-overlooked puppeteers Universal playwrights created for his co-workers background without restrictions, thanks to which the theater was opened to untried procedures and unconventional projects. The theater became a living tent of culture for all ages, where they began to organize concerts, exhibitions, discussions, film production and so on. Between the years of 1997 – 1998 he was withdrawn from his function. After his returning to the post of the director he returned to the concept of open theater. He died in the year 2007. In the theater which was named after him, he worked for 37 years.