Few if any Westerners have been living in this part of the world for as long as Don Sparling. Indeed, the Canadian-born academic came to Czechoslovakia in March 1969, just seven months after the Soviet invasion that crushed the Prague Spring movement. He has been here ever since, for the most part living in Brno, where he eventually became head of the English Department at Masaryk University.
This week’s Sunday Music Show profiles chanson singer, guitarist and composer Lenka Filipová. The singer, who started out as a classical guitar player and developed into a successful chanson singer has enchanted audiences in Prague and Paris and recorded more than two dozen albums in a career spanning more than 30 years.
With the economic crisis and countries becoming increasingly introverted, you might expect this to be the worst of all possible times for getting Czech books published abroad. But that is far from being the case. In this week’s Czech Books, David Vaughan talks to Edgar de Bruin, who runs a literary agency from Amsterdam and promotes Czech writing all over the world.
In less than a fortnight, principal photography will begin on one of the most significant film productions in the Czech Republic this year, the adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44. The thriller, a bestseller published in 2009, tells the story of a police detective in the Soviet Union who gets on the wrong side of his bosses. The film of the book represents a major investment and boost in Czech products and services.
Divadlo Hurvínka a Spejbla – the theater of Hurvínek and Spejbl – has been a favorite destination for children in Prague for the past 65 years. It is home to the country’s most popular puppets, father Spejbl and his son Hurvínek. The Dejvice theater just returned to its original location that was closed down for two years due to renovation. Sarah Borufka visited the new space and even met the voice behind the puppets.
A 1920s Prague villa built for the Czech writer Karel Čapek has been put up for sale, along with Čapek’s library, personal archive and some original furnishings. The owner’s decision to sell the house has surprised the Czech Culture Ministry; its officials say they would like to buy the property but admit it will be difficult as the price might be beyond their reach.
The 1999 movie Pelíšky (Cosy Dens) is a bittersweet drama set in the period leading up the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia August 1968. Chock-full of names like Václav Neckář, Blue Effect, Waldemar Matuška, The Matadors, Hana Hegerová and Petr Novák, its soundtrack is an excellent primer to the Czechoslovak music of that era and a brilliant compilation by any standards.
Aleš Rumpel is the head of the Mezipatra queer film festival, one of the leading events of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. He has also been involved in numerous other cultural activities and currently works at the National Film Archive. Our tour of “Aleš’s Prague” begins on Národní třída, or National Street, an avenue that is home to institutions, such as Café Slavia and the National Theatre, as well as shops and restaurants of varying standards. So, what does Národní mean to Aleš Rumpel?
The 12th annual Prague Fringe Festival begins on Friday evening in the Czech capital. As always, the fest offers a wide range of theatre from all around the world. Prague-based playwright Stuart Mentha, following on the success of his debut, Déjà Vu, last year, is also back. Friday sees the premiere of his new play ‘False Friends’. He told us more about it at Czech Radio this week.