This summer Prague is hosting its 8th Shakespeare Festival. It was initially the idea of the former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who is, of course, no stranger to the theatre himself. This year we can see open-air productions of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet at the Prague, Brno and Bratislava castles. There will also be an English-language puppet production of Hamlet. Laura Teodorescu went to see one of the productions:
The production of Romeo and Juliet is performed in one of the courtyards at Prague Castle. It's staged in an open-air theatre which is perfect for the summer. The "set" consists of authentic castle walls and Juliet's picturesque balcony, where Romeo climbs up with an acrobatic skilfulness, which hugely impresses the audience. I asked Magdalena Bicikova from Prague's Theatre Institute about the actors we can see in the productions:
''In Romeo and Juliet there are two Romeos and two Juliets. We held a big casting, which took place in Prague and Bratislava with 200 or more young actors fighting for the two roles. These people are surrounded by stars like Emilia Vasariova, Martin Hubas Kolik from the Slovak National Theatre, Bohumil Klepl from the Na Zabradli Theatre or Marek Vasut. He plays mainly in films like Mission Impossible, Diamond Swords or Van Helsing.''
Apart from the Czech version of Hamlet with Jiri Langmajer, which has been nominated for the prestigious Czech Thalie Award, we can look forward to an English production of Hamlet with marionettes performed by the Czechoslovak-American Theatre Group and according to Ms Bicikova:
''Director Vit Horejs says that his Hamlet is somebody between William Hurt and John Lennon.''
In connection with the festival there is an exhibition called 'Maximal Photos'. It consists of 27 photos by leading Czech photographers and is on show open-air at Prague Castle, together with the productions.
Finally I asked what role Shakespeare plays in the Czech theatre nowadays:
''Well according to statistics of the Theatre Institute, he is still the number one.''
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