Inspired by US guitar bands like The Pixies and Sonic Youth, Houpací koně formed in Ústí nad Labem in 1991, releasing their eponymous debut LP four years later. While the group – with leader Jiří Imlauf the only constant member – have been ploughing their own independent furrow for years, they won a new generation of fans with their most recent LP, the acclaimed Everest.
The White Carpathian Mountains, straddling the border of Moravia and Slovakia, are one of the most beautiful and rural parts of the Czech Republic. Towns are few and far between and for centuries local people would take their aches and pains to old women renowned in the region for their special healing powers. They were known as “goddesses” and passed their knowledge from generation to generation. But Czechoslovakia’s post-war communist rulers saw the world these women represented as a threat and within two generations they were wiped out. Their
Masters of Rock, held near Zlín, is the biggest international rock festival the Czech Republic each year, with a spin-off winter event as well as sister festival in Plzeň. Masters of Rock in the past has featured legends from Def Leppard to Motorhead. This week, promoters announced that the headliners for 2015 will be the Finnish rock phenomenon Nightwish.
This week Prague is hosting its biggest annual design festival, Designblok, with dozens of presentations, exhibitions and fashion shows taking place in the city. Unlike in the previous years, when it occupied various industrial spaces, Designblok has now moved to the centre of Prague. The festival’s main exhibition space – the so-called Superstudio – is located right on Wenceslas Square. When I spoke to Jana Zielienski, the director of Designblok, I first asked her why they decided to make this move:
Thousands of libraries around the country are celebrating National Library Week with events aimed at drawing more people to these public institutions and highlighting what they have to offer. Some are inviting people to come and tango, others have selected readings by popular children’s authors while library staff in Ostrava have taken to the streets to reward anyone seen reading a book.
In a couple of weeks’ time, audiences in Prague will get their first chance to see a Jára Cimrman play performed in English. Known as a dramatist, inventor, philosopher, traveller and all-round genius, the fictional character has been hugely popular with Czech audiences since the first Cimrman play in 1967. Ahead of the premiere of the English Cimrman Studio’s production of Záskok or The Stand-In, I spoke to its founder, Brian Stewart – what was his introduction to one of the best-loved comic figures in Czech culture?
The singer, songwriter and film score composer Petr Skoumal, who passed away last Sunday aged 76, wrote hundreds of songs for both adults and children. He will be remembered as an ingenious composer with a great sense of humour and irony as well as a melancholic streak that came out in many of his tunes.
In recent years, the Czech Republic and Prague specifically have seen an increase in street performance or street theatre. This Saturday, visitors can see troupes perform in the city centre in V Kotcích Street – just a stone’s throw from Můstek, a central meeting point for both locals and tourists. The small one-day festival will provide shows for children and adults in a normally quiet street which used to be home to Prague’s first stone theatre, Divadlo v Kotcích (no longer standing).
The Czech Republic is slowly re-establishing itself as a prime destination for international film and TV productions, mainly thanks to an increasingly generous incentives programme. TV and film producers spent some five billion crowns in the Czech Republic last year, the highest amount in nearly a decade.
This summer, an off-Broadway theatre in New York put on a play about the actress Hana Pravda and the athlete Miloš Dobrý, two extraordinary Czech Jews living in Prague before WWII. The documentary drama “The Good and the True”, which has run for two months, follows the life of the protagonists who however never met in real life. Originally written and directed by Daniel Hrbek for Prague’s Švandovo Theatre, the intimate play conveys the courage and determination which helped the two people survive the horrors of Terezín and Auschwitz.