The Czech PEN club on Monday marked its 85th anniversary. Established in Prague just three years after the worldwide association of writers was founded in London in 1922, the Czech PEN club brought together some big names in pre-war Czech literature, including Karel Čapek, František Langer and Viktor Fischl. Today, the Czech PEN club carries on its mission of promoting freedom of speech, supporting oppressed writers in many countries around the world.
It’s that time of the year again for the Czech film industry; the red carpet is about to come out for the Czech Lions – that is, the top Czech film prize awarded by the Czech Film and Television Academy – but there have also been a series of higher-than-ordinary-profile films of late and some new directions taken in the industry. In the studio to talk over some of that, and to give us an idea of what’s to come, I spoke to film critic and reporter Ilona Francková, who has had a careful eye on the goings-on of the Czech film world for much of the
Concertino Praga – Czech Radio’s prestigious international competition for young musicians – has just announced the winners of this year’s event. The aim of the competition, which was established in 1966, is to search for talented young musicians all over Europe and help them embark on a professional career. Ruth Fraňková has more.
When John Millington Synge’s masterpiece The Playboy of the Western World was first performed in Dublin in 1907, there were riots in protest. The black comedy with its tale of attempted patricide was seen as going beyond the limits of decency, and was even accused of putting the Irish nation into disrepute. Set in an isolated and poor rural community, Synge’s play relishes the wealth of western Irish dialect, and today is universally acknowledged as one of the classics of Irish drama. But what does that have to do with the Czech Republic? In this
František Matoušek’s paintings are instantly recognizable because of the material he uses, instead of painting on canvas, Matoušek stretches different varieties of denim over his frames. Often, he distresses the fabric, removes threads and roughs it up, so the texture of the denim becomes an element of the paintings’ motifs.
For the first time since 2005, there has been a fall in the number of books published in the Czech Republic. A regular survey by the Czech National library shows that the number of books published in 2009 was about a thousand lower than the previous year. However, despite the decrease Czechs still rank among the most avid readers in Europe and overall sales of books remain pretty much on the same level.
The Czech Centre in the Dutch capital The Hague has been promoting all things Czech since 1994. Last year, more than 60,000 thousand people approached the centre or took part in one of their events. But the economic crisis has put the centre in a difficult situation, as the Czech Foreign Ministry is planning to cut around one third of its budget. Radio Prague spoke to the head of Czech Centre in The Hague Petra Prinsová and asked her how they are coping with the current situation.
Say the word ‘carnival’ and people usually think of the colourful extravaganzas of Brazil or Venice, but the period leading up to the beginning of lent is celebrated across the world, including the Czech Republic. Here it’s known as “masopust”, which means pretty much the same thing as the Italian “carnevale” – i.e. to refrain from eating meat. Masopust is mostly celebrated in Moravia, but a husband and wife team is trying to resurrect the lavish Prague carnival that was the social event of the year in centuries gone by.
Vratislav Brabenec is a member of the band The Plastic People of the Universe, a thorn in the side of Czechoslovakia’s communist regime. But Mr Brabenec is also the author of a book of stories for children, called The Centre of the World is Everywhere, which is now also available in an English translation.