Artistic Director for Puppet Arts Theatre, Peter Zapletal, grew up in former Czechoslovakia, recognized as the world center of modern puppetry. After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Puppetry from the Academy of the Performing Arts in Prague, he joined the professional puppet theatre in Zilina, Slovakia. Soon afterwards he and his family emigrated to New York where he immediately started to produce puppet performances.
By 1970 he was recognized in a New York Times article as a talent to watch. But his path took a turn South - literary - and he moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he joined the local PBS station as a puppeteer in residence. During the next 32 years he created many instructional and special programs with and without puppets. His instructional programs were seen in classrooms across the United States and special programs, from Beauty and the Beast, to Steadfast Tin Soldier with Burl Ives, to Bolero (a ballet special) were broadcast by PBS stations.
Peter Zapletal garnered more than 50 national awards, among them five Emmy Awards for Ticktock Minutes, Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the 25 years of excellence in television puppetry, The Puppeteers of America Award for high standards and continued excellence in puppetry.
In addition to his television work, he also produced many shows that Puppet Arts Theatre tours throughout the Southeast offering magical and exciting theatrical experiences.
Mr. Zapletal’s other professional activities include stage directing of Gian Carlo Menotti's The Telephone and The Medium, operas with Opera South at Jackson State University, directing Hansel & Gretel and The Golem with the Millsaps Players at Millsaps College, serving as President of Union Internationale de la Marionette - USA, Inc., Artistic Director for three National Festivals of the Puppeteers of America, and as Artistic Coordinator for 1980 World Puppetry Festival, at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C.