Theatres and other state-subsidised arts institutions were celebrating victory over Prague’s City Council this week after councillors scrapped a controversial new system of awarding subsidies. The system – under which Prague’s theatres were subsidised according to the number of tickets sold – sparked a wave of protest by arts organisations and even led to angry artists disrupting a meeting of the city council.
The former Czech president Václav Havel has largely refrained from interfering in or commenting on domestic politics since stepping down as president five years ago. But this weekend he seemed to cross that fine line between general philosophising on the state of society and making overtly political gestures, when he said people in Prague should not vote for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats in the forthcoming elections.
Hundreds gathered outside Prague’s National Theatre on Sunday to witness an eight-hour-long protest against the way the arts are funded in the Czech capital. The event - comprising of performances, speeches and concerts staged by Czech stars - marked the opening of the ‘Dny neklidu’ (‘Days of Unrest’). The festival, which calls on Prague City Hall to change the way it deals out its culture budget, has been largely masterminded by actors and producers at the capital’s Švandovo Divadlo. I paid this Smíchov theatre a visit to talk to event organiser
Václav Havel’s "Leaving", the playwright and former president’s first play in two decades, premiered successfully on Thursday evening at Prague’s Archa Theatre. The staging has already received praise from a number of Czech critics. On the eve of premiere, Mr Havel, 71, joked he had never seen so many journalists - who got a sneak preview – at a cultural event. "Leaving" is directed by David Radok and stars Czech-born actor Jan Tříska in the role of a top politician leaving office. Zuzana Stivínová replaced actress Dagmar Havlová, Mr Havel’s wife, in the play after she withdrew citing overwork. An English-language staging of the play is being prepared for this autumn at London’s Orange Tree Theatre.
Prague’s seventh annual Fringe Festival, a marathon of theatre, dance, comedy, music and film from around the world, gets underway in the Czech capital on Sunday. Running for eight days, it will offer 227 English, Czech or non-verbal shows performed by 39 companies. Steven Gove, the man behind the Prague Fringe Festival, told me what is on offer this year:
In this week's Arts, a look at the first new play by former Czech president Václav Havel in twenty years. "Leaving" - about a politician's painful adjustment to a new life after leaving politics - opened at Prague's Archa Theatre on May 22nd, marking a return to the stage for Mr Havel, a world-renowned playwright when he entered politics in 1989.
Last-minute rehearsals before the long-awaited world premiere of Václav Havel’s latest play at Prague’s Archa Theatre on Thursday night. Leaving or Odcházení, is the first play the former Czech president has written in more than two decades. It tells the story of a high-ranking politician who leaves his post and sees his world fall apart. The play is inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear and Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard and is about the passage of power from one generation to the next. The former dissident insists that it is not based on his own experiences,
Václav Havel led Czechoslovakia to democracy and remains perhaps the best known Czech political figure of modern times. But before spearheading the Velvet Revolution, he was of course a world-renowned playwright. History interrupted Havel’s original career for two decades, but now the former president has returned to drama, with the long-awaited premiere of his new play Leaving taking place in Prague later this month. To discuss the work of Václav Havel, I recently went to New York University to meet academic Carol Rocamora, author of the 2005 book
The wife of the former Czech president Václav Havel Dagmar Havlová will
not star in the premiere of his new play “Leaving” (Odcházení) which
is to premiere in Prague’s Archa Theatre on May 22. Mr. Havel originally
wrote the leading female role for his wife Dagmar and insisted on her
getting the part, but a spokeswoman for the theatre said the former first
lady was severely overworked and was forced to cut back on her activities.
“Leaving” has been dogged by problems ever since it was published. It was originally to be staged by the National Theatre but negotiations failed after the theatre refused to cast Dagmar Havlová in the lead role. The project was also turned down by Divadlo Na Vinohradech due to a lack of money. The first foreign premiere of Leaving will take place in London’s Orange Theatre on September 19.
Some critics have already called it the most notable Czech film of the year – Petr Zelenka’s “The Karamazovs”. Inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel together with a famous long-running adaptation at Prague’s Dejvicke Theatre, the film opened in Prague on Thursday to wide anticipation. Layers within layers is one way of describing it as it focuses on actors performing the Karamazov story in a giant factory but it goes far beyond that, not only focusing on the actors on stage and off but also on one of the viewers. I sat down with the director a
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