One of the curious things about Central Europe is how little people from the various countries of the region know about each other. A recent sociological study suggested that Czechs and Poles have very similar views of the world and similar sets of values. They share a border five hundred miles long, speak languages that are close enough for them to be able to understand each other without too much difficulty, and yet the two nations have a habit of acting as if the other didn’t exist. Even in these days of open borders, assumptions and prejudices
It’s hard to believe that it has already been five years since the opening of the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Holešovice in Prague. Founded by Leoš Válka (who lived and worked for 15 years in Australia) DOX has since become one of the capital’s most exciting spaces for art goers. I caught up with Leoš Válka this week to ask not only about five years of the centre but also his original aim as a developer, which – it turns out – was not to found a gallery at all.
With barely a month to go until the New Scene theatre on Prague’s Národní třída turns 30, an art installation from Aleš Hvízdal, Marek Volf and Dominika Nettwallová has transformed the piazza underneath the theatre into a giant camera obscura. Until the 4th of October spectators can view the square and the surrounding street through a warped projection in which unassuming passers-by become the central characters of an impromptu virtual stage.
This Friday sees the start of the International Festival of Outdoor Films in Ostrava, the largest festival of its kind in the Czech Republic focussing on adventure, travel and extreme sports. This year, the travelling festival will visit a total of 43 towns and cities in the Czech Republic, neighbouring Slovakia and also Russia.
The Next Wave festival of independent theater and art is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Starting on Thursday, new and established performance groups and independent artists will show their works in Prague, Brno and Pardubice during the 12-day festival. The festival’s director, Jakub Matějka, spoke about some of the highlights for this year.
When one half of the Čapek brothers villa was put up for sale by the relatives of Karel Čapek’s wife on May, some were worried that the famous writer’s residence, where many important works were written, would be sold to a private owner and closed off to the public for good. The Prague 10 district council put the concerns to rest on Monday when it voted to purchase the villa for 44 million crowns. The owner, Karel Scheinpflug, was willing to lower the original asking price of 55 million, in order to make the residence a public space. Radio Prague
The poet, playwright and novelist Irena Eliášová spent her early childhood in a Romany village in south-western Slovakia. The memory of this time has become the defining experience in her writing. But Irena does not write just about the lost world of her childhood in the 1950s and 60s. She has also written powerfully and poignantly about the life of Roma in the Czech Republic today. Yet even when she writes about the present, her work is permeated with a sense of family and community that also draws us back to an older world of Roma tradition. David
Switch on your TV here in the Czech Republic and you’ll see numerous familiar shows – Dr House, Bones, Downton Abbey – but they’re invariably dubbed into Czech; rarely are they shown in the original with subtitles. A group of secondary school students wants to change that, and have launched a new campaign to petition public and private broadcasters to stop dubbing their output.
Actor Ivan Shvedoff moved to Prague at the end of the 1990s from his native St. Petersburg. Since arriving here he has extended his filmography greatly, with roles in a number of Hollywood movies and Czech productions such as Mamas and Papas. Shvedoff is also big in Germany and Austria, where he does a lot of TV work. When he stopped by at our studios, my first question for the Russian actor was what led him to move here in the first place.