In this new Radio Prague series, notable Prague residents take us to some places in the city to which they have a particular connection. Our first guide is Radim Špaček, who is perhaps best known as the director of the multi-award winning film Pouta, or Walking Too Fast. A former child actor, Radim also makes documentaries and co-organizes Prague’s Bollywood Film Festival. He was actually born on the other side of the country, in Ostrava, but came to the capital as a child.
The Semafor theatre, one of the oldest continuous traditions of modern Czech entertainment, is still putting out new performances after 53 years of existence. The latest concoction of multi-genre comedy theatre is ‘Kam se poděla Valerie?’, or ‘Where Did Valerie Go?’, which has four pre-premieres this week and next, before the real premiere in September.
2012 was another record-breaking year for the Czech art market, with collectors having auctioned some 881 million crowns – or over 46 million US dollars – worth of artefacts. That’s a 36-percent increase compared to the previous year. Interestingly, the market received a significant boost from Chinese collectors buying up pieces from their part of the world. I discussed the latest trends with Jan Skřivánek from the magazine Art and Antiques, one of the editors of the Art Plus yearbook which sums up developments on the Czech art market.
A new exhibit entitled Go and Don’t Shoot will open on Tuesday evening at the National Gallery’s Veletržní Palác. It presents multi-media works that the contemporary Czech artist Štěpánka Šimlová brought back from her visits in Kayin State in Burma. In this week’s In Focus, Masha Volynsky speaks to Ms. Šimlová about the exhibit, and her experiences in Burma, and later looks more closely at the situation in this war-torn country.
My ears pricked up recently when a guest on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs selected as one of the songs he’d like to be stranded with a track by Louis Armstrong – recorded live in Prague. The LP Louis Armstrong in Prague: Lucerna 1965 was extremely familiar from the racks of the city’s secondhand shops. But I had never picked up a copy.
Tereza Porybná took over as director of the Czech Centre in London earlier this month. Her professional and academic experience have been quite varied – for many years she worked on humanitarian and development projects in Ethiopia, ran the biggest documentary film festival in the Czech Republic and had completed a doctorate in visual anthropology, receiving a Fulbright grant to do research in the United States.
Traditional carnival celebrations preceding the beginning of lent are taking place all over the Czech capital, with many neighborhoods organizing their own celebrations. Prague’s Žižkov district holds the claim to the longest running post-communist tradition of Masopust festivities, as they are called in Czech. This year, Žižkov celebrates the twentieth Masopust in the neighborhood.
The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down has surprised the world. Here in the Czech Republic, church leaders have praised his courage and recalled his visit to the country in 2009. However, Pope Benedict’s retirement for health reasons raises questions over whether his successor will attend a huge Catholic celebration in Velehrad planned for later this year.