Julek Neumann is a man of many talents: theatrical director, actor, journalist, playwright and poet. He is currently writing, directing and acting with a number of Czech theatres after over 25 years abroad, first in Vienna, where he moved from communist Czechoslovakia in 1984, and then in London, where for many years he worked for the Czech section of the BBC. David Vaughan spoke to Julek about a rather neglected, but fascinating aspect of Czech theatre – the central role it has played in the life of Czech communities abroad.
Prague’s Galerie Rudolfinum has officially opened one of its most ambitious projects to date: the exhibition Decadence Now! Visions of Excess, looking at the use of decadence in contemporary art. The show – featuring work by such artists as Cindy Sherman, Joel-Peter Witkin and the late Robert Mapplethorpe – will shock some but enthuse others, and in all cases draw a strong response.
Tuesday was a state holiday in the Czech Republic, the Day of Czech Statehood, which marks the feast day of the patron Saint Václav, or Wenceslas. While it has always been a red-letter day for Czech Roman Catholics, who commemorate the martyr’s murder in the year 935, it is only in recent years that the date has gained in political significance. This year the office of the government marked the occasion with a special ceremony to return an 80 year old film epic about the holy monarch to the screen.
The Czech Film and Television Academy has made its choice for which film to send to the 2011 Academy Awards, putting its trust once again in director Jan Hřebejk for his drama Kawasaki’s Rose. That Mr Hřebejk has Oscar potential we already know – his WWII drama Divided We Fall was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2000 – but was Kawasaki’s Rose indeed the best candidate for an Oscar on offer; that’s a question I put to film critic Ilona Francková.
The CCTV Allstars have not been on the scene for too long, but we’re hearing about them more and more over the last year as they become a staple of the Czech music scene. They are based out of Prague and play a tireless schedule here month after month, so they’re certainly listed as a “Czech group”. But each member of the five-man ensemble is from a different country and they bring variety of musical backgrounds to a foreground of ska. Today we sat down with two of their number, their British frontman and guitarist Eddy Allen, and Swedish bassist
Steen Agro made a big impact with his first full length feature film, the British-Czech black comedy ‘Shut up and shoot me’ (Sklapni a zastřel mě) in which Czech actors Karel Roden and Anna Geislerová had star roles. Five years on, he has moved to Prague and is seeking to build on his debut success. …..I asked him how tight were the purse strings for that first feature film.
If you want to find out more about the long history of Czechs and Slovaks in the United States, the place to start is The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The museum was devastated by floods in 2008 and some 6,000 flood-damaged volumes from the library are still being painstakingly restored. But the pace of recovery has been remarkably fast, and within the next couple of years, an ambitious project to rebuild and expand the museum should be complete. With it the library will also be up and running once again.