The month of August was nothing if not turbulent for the Czech National Theatre, which saw its new director recalled from his position on day one by the government, before uproar led to his hasty reinstatement. His return – and the guarantee the theatre will retain its independence – means most actors who quit in protest came back for the new season.
The Letní Letná international festival of new circus and theatre gets underway at Prague’s Letná Plain on Sunday evening. This year’s edition kicks off with a free show in which leading Czech artists in the field will come together for a one-off performance. Among the main attractions at the 10th Letní Letná, which runs until September 3, will be two circuses from France.
The Czech National Theatre has been guilty of financial irregularities for several years, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday, citing an audit completed under a former minister of culture. The institution’s new director, Jan Burian, told the newspaper that the theatre had broken the Labour Code with regard to the payment of taxes and health and social insurance. The National Theatre was recently in the news when Mr. Burian was sacked by the current minister of culture before being reinstated a few days later. A number of actors quit in protest, though most have since returned.
The majority of actors in Prague’s National Theatre who resigned in protest against the dismissal of the theatre’s director have withdrawn their resignations, the head of the theatre’s drama department said on Friday. Nearly half of the ensemble resigned after Culture Minister Jiri Balvin dismissed the National Theatre’s director, Jan Burian, earlier this month. But the decision caused outrage among the arts community and politicians, and the prime minister ordered Mr Balvín to reinstate the theatre’s director. Two of best known actors in the National Theatre, Miroslav Donutil and Richard Krajčo, have not withdrawn their resignations and will cooperate with the theatre as freelancers.
The director of Prague’s National Theatre, Jan Burian, has agreed to stay in his post after Culture Minister Jiří Balvín accepted his conditions. Those include no further changes in the management of the institution until after the next elections. Mr Burian was reinstated to the position on the prime minister’s request last week, a day after he was fired by the culture minister. His dismissal caused an outcry among the theatre’s actors, management and politicians.
Last week’s sacking of Jan Burian as head of the National Theatre and subsequent backtracking is a situation which has not been fully resolved. Although Mr Burian agreed to tentatively return to the post after Culture Minister Jiří Balvín rescinded his decision, for some – namely top management at the theatre and actors who quit in protest– Mr Burian’s return will not be enough.
Petr Zusak and Michal Dočekal, who were until recently the artistic directors of ballet and drama at the Czech National Theater, have called on Prime Minister Rusnok to immediately dismiss the Culture Minister Jiří Balvín. They have asked the caretaker prime minister to name a strong leader to the post. Mr. Balvín undermined his own position in the eyes of many members of the artistic community when he fired the head of the National Theater Jan Burian last Thursday, and then re-instated him under pressure from the prime minister a day later. In protest over the dismissal, artistic directors of all three sections of the theater as well as over 20 actors and directors resigned last week.
Czech actor Miroslav Donutil has said he is quitting the National Theatre, citing – as the “last straw” – a botched attempt by the current interim government to sack its director Jan Burián. Mr Donutil told Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes the move by the Culture Minister Jiří Balvín to remove the theatre head was the height of amateurism. Mr Donutil, who has starred in numerous stage productions as well as countless films including Dědictví, Pevnost and Pelíšky, was a member of the National Theatre for 23 years. He cited his long-term involvement with the theatre as well as fatigue as additional reasons for leaving.
The Czech minister of culture, Jiří Balvín, on Friday reinstated the director of the National Theatre, Jan Burian, a day after he dismissed him. Mr Balvín was ordered to do so by Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok. The culture minister fired Mr. Burian, who was appointed by a previous minister, on the same day he took over at the National Theatre, a move that met with strong condemnation across the political spectrum; it also led a number of leading actors and its entire management team to quit the institution. Mr Balvín said he did not consider the matter a reason for him to step down.
The Rusnok cabinet has been forced to backtrack on the latest in a series of high-profile dismissals. The head of the National Theatre Jan Burian, who was sacked on his first day in office on Thursday, has been reinstated on the orders of the prime minister. Nevertheless, the affair has sparked widespread condemnation and once again raised the question of the government’s right to make radical changes ahead of its vote of confidence in the lower house next Wednesday.
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