The Czech premiere of Tom Stoppard's recent play Rock 'N' Roll was one of the big literary and social events of the year, attended not just by the playwright himself, but also by many prominent former Czech dissidents. The level of interest was not just because Tom Stoppard is of Czech origin, born in Zlin in 1937, but also because of the very Czech subject matter of the play.
The English-speaking community in Prague has few chances to see drama performed in English. But this is just about to change, as The Prague Post - the country's leading English-language newspaper - has decided to encourage English-language theatre in the city, and founded its own festival of short plays.
Prague's Jara Cimrman Theatre, named after a popular fictitious character, is about to become involved in an unusual undertaking. It has put together a group of actors and professional climbers who will visit Russia's Altay Mountains this summer. When they get there they plan to christen a hitherto name-less peak - after Jara Cimrman.
The red carpet was out on Thursday evening for the Czech premiere of the latest play by the renowned British playwright Tom Stoppard. He was born in Czechoslovakia, and the play, Rock'n'Roll, is partly set in Prague; it begins with the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968 and ends with a Rolling Stones concert at the city's Strahov stadium in 1990.
This Sunday the cream of the country's regional theatres will be enjoying the limelight at a gala evening and awards ceremony at Prague's Karlin Musical Theatre. It will be the high point of the annual Ceske Divadlo (Czech Theatre) festival, which gives regional theatres the chance to come to Prague and show they can hold their own with the best the capital has to offer. Ahead of the gala evening I spoke to the festival's organiser, Marek Vesely.
Culture Minister Helena Trestikova has decided to appoint theatre critic Ondrej Cerny as the new director of Prague's National Theatre. Mrs Trestikova made the decision based on a recommendation by an expert committee which assessed the proposals of five candidates for the post. Former Culture Minister Martin Stepanek dismissed the previous director Jan Mrzena in September, a move which caused a rift between the theatre's ensembles.
With a large English-speaking community, it's perhaps surprising that Prague does not have an English-language theatre scene like those that can be found in other major European capitals like Paris and Berlin. Now a new playwriting competition sponsored by The Prague Post could help rectify this situation. Offering a first prize of 20,000 CZK and productions for the three best scripts, it is hoped that this drama contest could boost interest in English-language theatre in Prague.
Milos Forman, the Czech-born film director famous for films like Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The People vs. Larry Flynt, has arrived in the Czech capital to begin pre-production on a jazz musical titled "A Well-Paid Walk", written by Jiri Suchy and Jiri Slitr. The work will premiere in the second half of April. While in Prague Mr Forman will also take part in the local premiere of his new film "Goya's Ghosts" on January 31st. Invited guests will reportedly include actress Natalie Portman as well as screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere.
Actors from the National Theatre ensemble are threatening to go on strike alert unless the culture minister sacks the theatres' current director Jan Mrzena and finds a suitable replacement. Mr. Mrzena was appointed to the post on a temporary basis after the culture minister sacked the former director Daniel Dvorak for poor fund-management. Thirty nine of the theatre's most prominent actors have signed a petition asking for a competent and qualified director to be found as soon as possible.
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