Margareta Niculescu, Romanian producer, stage director, and teacher died on August 19, 2018 in Charleville-Mézières, France. She was Artistic Director of what is now Teatrul de Animatie Tăndărică in Bucharest from 1949 to 1986. In 1978, her work was awarded the European Erasmus Prize along with other puppet masters such as Peter Schumann, Yves Joly, and Fratelli di Napoli.
In Umor pe sfori (Humour in Strings, 1954), Niculescu introduced the idea of using diverse materials to represent characters - metallic springs, woven fabric, objects - a great innovation that inspired other puppeteers. Her work ranged from the parody of an action film, Mâna cu cinci degete (The Hand with Five Fingers, 1958), to realizations of the work of the surrealist poet, Gellu Naum, the evocative texts of Fredrico Garcia Lorca, and Rudyard Kipling tales, as well as diverse Romanian authors. In Norway, she staged East of the Sun, West of the Moon (1976) and Ibsen's Peer Gynt (1978) at the Riksteatret and directed Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen at Det Norske Teatret (The Norwegian Theatre) in Oslo. She directed other productions in Magdeburg, Belgrade, Brussels, Namur, Sofia, Cairo, and Lübeck.
She helped create platforms for free expression in the arts in Romania. Festivals she produced in Bucharest (1958, 1960, 1965) established Romania as a country in the foreground of innovative puppet arts. Her "Puppeteer's Studio" (1972-1976) trained artists in technical and vocal skills, creating "actor-puppeteers" needed for her new work. From 1957-2000 she was a member of the UNIMA-International Executive Committee and in 2000-2004 she was President.
From 1976 to 2000, Niculescu presided over the International Commission for Professional Training and in 1985 became director of the Institut International de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières. In 1987, Niculescu founded the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette (ESNAM, National School for Higher Education in Puppetry Arts) also in Charleville-Mézières. She initiated two puppet theatre periodicals, Puck and E pur si muove- La marionnette aujourd'hui and developed training workshops and conferences.
She is survived by her children, Dan and Irina Niculescu. Irina is an independent director and teacher of puppetry arts in Cincinnati, OH. She served as an UNIMA-USA board member for many years, and was co-artistic director of the 2017 Puppeteers of America Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, carrying on her mother's legacy of producing and training for excellence in puppet arts.
You can read more about Margareta Niculescu in the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts.
(text Unima USA)