Sapramiška (Sapra Mouse)

The most famous Slovenian mouse is celebrating 40 years of life

Photo: Urška Boljkovac

The clever and brave Sapramiška is the most famous Slovenian mouse, and the Sapramiška puppet show is the most successful in the country’s history, and has so far been performed 1,783 times and seen by as many as 289,785 people. Sapramiška was also mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records (1989) for having been performed 177 times in one year.

Its author is just as famous as the show. The fairy tale of Sapramiška was written in 1976 by the Slovenian poet, young adult writer, chanson singer and actress Svetlana Makarovič. She is the winner of numerous awards, including the Prešeren, which is the highest recognition given by the Republic of Slovenia for outstanding artistic achievements. 

A heroine for all generations

Slovenian children cannot imagine growing up without the fairy tales written by Svetlana Makarovič. Her literary works serve as the basis for many puppet shows, which over the years have won the hearts of people of all different ages. Svetlana Makarovič has worked together with the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre on thirty shows, the most famous ones being Sapramiška (Sapra Mouse), Sovica Oka (Oka the Owl; 1972), Pekarna Mišmaš (Mišmaš Bakery; 1977), Korenčkov palček (The Carrot Dwarf; 1989), Tacamuca (Catty Paw; 1998), Spet Kosovirji (The Cosies Again; 2000), Kuna Kunigunda (The Kunigunda Marten; 2003), and Vila Malina (The Raspberry Fairy; 2006). 

Photo: Urška Boljkovac

In 1986, the première of Sapramiška was staged at the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. It was directed by the Slovenian puppeteer, actor and director Nace Simončič, who started to work in the theatre in World War II during the National Liberation Struggle, and left a profound impression on Slovenian puppetry with his productions in the theatre and on radio and television. 

During its many international tours, Sapramiška visited most of the European countries as well as Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Pakistan, Mexico, Venezuela, and more. To this day it remains in the repertoire of the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, mostly in its original version. Copies of the puppets were made on the show's 30th anniversary, while Jaka Judnič, responsible for the shows visual design and one of the most successful Slovenian directors of television advertisements, provided several related animations, and a new, young cast was presented to the audience.

A little mouse with a big heart

The fairy tale tells the story of a little grey mouse who finds herself face to face with a cat, and she is so surprised that she unintentionally uses the mild swear word “sapramišnazaj” (sapramouseback). This is how Sapramiška got her name. For her birthday, she got three beautiful hazelnuts and unfortunately broke one of her teeth when trying to eat them. This is how she made history as the first mouse who sat in a dentist’s chair. 

Years ago, this famous mouse started her humanitarian work in a project raising funds for children from socially disadvantaged families, called Sponsorship. She also got her own toothpaste in 2016, with some of the profits going to the Sapramiškin sklad (Sapra Mouse’s Fund) at the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth, to help children with special needs.

Based on responses of young audiences, Sapramiška still has a long career ahead of her on the stage of the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. Every show is sold out in advance, and children usually leave the theatre having learned how to overcome fear and recognise the power of friendship.

Text by Petra Škofic