The new hit, puppet performances in a coat by Plovdiv puppet-makers Yaroslava Bykova and Varvara Karnauh (Bulgaria), evoke childish delight both in children and adults. Handmade work and original scenarios help the creative duo to enrich modern Bulgarian culture and tap into local traditions.

Creativity beyond stereotypes 

Street puppet shows of the craftswomen are inspired by Bulgarian culture, and their collaboration is fueled by warm friendship despite the cold hostility between their nations, Russians and Ukrainians. Since the recent Russo-Ukrainian War of 2014, severe tensions have impacted negatively on relationships between people.

But looking at happy bustle around street puppet shows by Yaroslava Bykova and Varvara Karnauh, you understand that the power of talent multiplied by innovation can overcome many negative prejudices. The artists consider constant collaboration with communities as an abundant source of smart small business ideas.

Varya Slava

Both craftswomen live in Plovdiv, run their businesses, and their creative ideas are appreciated by customers from different countries. Puppets help people to feel the links between the past and the present.

One of the most incredible orders Yaroslava had was a puppet of Francois Villon made at the request of the famous Russian writer Faina Grimberg who was writing a play and needed a doll to better imagine the scenes.

Yaroslava bykova with a puppet of Francois Villon
Yaroslava Bykova made this puppet of Francois Villon to help the Russian writer Faina Grimberg to feel links between the past and the present

The mutual projects have a special value to the likeminded friends who enjoy trying new ideas and sharing the fun with other people. Street performances and festivals are the most suitable places for such interaction. 

For instance, during the Street Art Festival in Varna, Yaroslava offered children to draw on pavement images suitable for selfie. Many visitors to the festival were happy to have such backgrounds for memorable pictures.

Varvara Street Festival Varna

And later the artist invited everyone to a puppet performance, where the patrons could play with the puppets.  For those who were interested in DIY, Varvara was organizing a workshop during which she helped the participants to find interesting eco-ideas for decorating eco-bags.

Street Art Festival in Varna Varvara

Constant interaction with the audience is a basis for commercial projects that allow Yaroslava and Varvara to get new ideas, create engaging projects and stand out from the competition.

Woollen puppets for a theatre in a coat

Puppet shows are one of the main means of learning about Bulgarian culture and interaction with communities across the country. Yaroslava is a lifelong toy-maker. Her favourite technique is felting, making handcrafts of wool. Bulgaria is one of the main European producers of very high-quality wool. For the last decade, Yaroslava has turned many kilogrammes of warm woollen clouds into pictures, clothes, mini-theatres and even nestling boxes.

  • Yaroslava Bykova coffee man
  • puppet Francois Villon for writer Faina Grimberg 1
  • woolen mini theater by yaroslava bykova
  • Yaroslava Bykova toy
  • Yaroslava Bykova eco blouse
  • woolen house by yaroslava bykova
  • Yaroslava Bykova white granny
  • Yaroslava Bykova toys
  • Yaroslava Bykova Scarf
  • Yaroslava Bykova exhibition 2

 A theatrical performance in a coat is a new hit of modern Bulgarian culture and a clever small business idea. It was performed at the biggest collaborative event of the initiative Plovdiv 2019, the European Capital of Culture, and impressed creative professionals from 7 countries.

Yaroslava Bykova and Varvara Karnauh underwent training for public engagement and participation at the EU Plovdiv School of Participation. During the Show and Tell sessions the participants exchanged experiences and ideas on how to interact with the audience. 

theatre in a coat by yaroslava bykova and varvara karnauh
At the EU Plovdiv School of Participation 2019: sharing experience with teams of future European Capitals of Culture

The artists presented the play Romeo and Julietta by Shakespeare with tiny woollen puppets, and an old wool coat was a stage for the performance. The decorations were attached to the lining. The small puppets were similar to professional ones but adopted to use by children. So, any curious kid could become an actor and breathe new life into a street show. 

Whenever the artists present this play, it always triggers the same reaction: great enthusiasm and desire to touch small woollen miracles.

  • theatre in a coat by yaroslava bykova and varvara karnauh
  • theatre in a coat by yaroslava bykova and varvara karnauh
  • theater from a coat
  • The woollen theatre from a coat
  • theatre in a coat by yaroslava bykova and varvara karnauh

Bulgaria is about enjoying simple things

Both women moved to Bulgaria because of different reasons. Varvara left Poltava (Ukraine) for Plovdiv because of marriage with Bulgarian. The family raises a son who from childhood is part of many creative projects. 

Yaroslava’s family is environmental refugees. Their home town Omsk (Russia), producing petroleum products and household chemicals, was infamous for environmental issues. In 2010, it was first among the Russian millionaire cities with critical air emissions. Yaroslava’s family left Omsk after their 1.5-year son was diagnosed with diabetes. 

They opted for Bulgaria because it was affordable and environmentally-friendly. Preserving its nature and maintaining good environmental status was important because tourism was a serious part of its economy.

bulgaria with yaroslava bykova varvara karnauh

Yaroslava and Varvara, even after many years living in Bulgaria, every single day enjoy simple things that are becoming a rarity in many places: clean air, beautiful nature, friendly people and good food. The mountains can be reached in just 30 minutes and the sea in only 3 hours. So, it’s easy to explore the beautiful country, where everything contributes to fresh inspiration and happy life.