Born in 1946, Aleš Macháček, has been through experiences that it is hard for people from the west to imagine. In 1977 he was sentenced to three years in prison for helping to distribute books and periodicals that were banned by the regime in Czechoslovakia, and in 1985 he was bullied into exile in London, as part of a secret police campaign to get rid of troublesome dissidents. That was where he met his partner, Jane Kirwan. Today they live in Prague, in a flat above an old cinema built by Aleš’s grandparents nearly a century ago. All this has
In today’s music programme, we’ll be looking back at the life and times of folksinger and writer Josef Peterka, better known under the name of Bob Hurikán. Born in Prague in 1907 in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hurikán became one of the main proponents of the ‘tramping’ movement in Bohemia (or trempink as it is also known) – more than a pastime but even a way of life combining a love of scouting, woodcraft and the American Wild West.
Famous cartoon characters from Czech Television’s bedtime stories for children called Večerníček have ventured into the cyber world. Thanks to a husband-and-wife IT team Josef Vosyka and his wife Šárka the cartoon characters have expanded far beyond Czech borders not just to entertain, but also to educate.
There are thousands of Westerners in Prague, but it’s highly likely that none of them are as well known to ordinary Czechs as Dan Brown. He’s a Canadian-born theatre director and actor who for the best part of a decade has been regularly appearing on one of the Czech Republic’s most popular soap operas, TV Nova’s Ulice, or The Street.
The Brno band Poletíme? describes itself as an original banjo-punk-future-jazz-band. Established in 2007 by artist and musician Rudolf Brancovsky it soon became a regular at clubs and festivals around the country. Its songs are a colourful mix of genres and are based on witty and often shocking texts –what the band calls “simple songs about a complicated life”.
Three theatre groups from Prague, Budapest and London joined forces last year to create a multidisciplinary project called home:scape. Combining interviews, blog entries and a multimedia theatre performance the creators looked at the theme of home, trying to find out what defines that ambiguous concept for different people – those who had lived in one place their whole lives, and those who are in constant flux. I asked Jonathan Kennedy, the executive director of one of the theatre troupes - Tara Arts in London –how the idea for the project came
It was meant to be the pride of Brno - the town’s own astronomical clock to rival Prague’s famous Orloj and attract tourists to the Moravian metropolis. Located on the city’s Freedom Square the shiny black six-metre-tall, phallus-shaped clock has attracted praise and insults in equal measure since its unveiling two years ago. As Brno City Hall hoped, it has become the talk of the town but in a slightly different way than expected.
A new documentary has just opened in Czech cinemas looking at the life of the country’s greatest jockey: eight-time Pardubice Steeplechase winner Josef Váňa. At 59, Váňa competed against riders more than half his age. The film “Váňa – The Greatest Race is Life Itself” reveals not only the racer’s success but the hard work behind all the victories.
Jaroslav Hašek is known the world over for his epic satirical novel, “The Good Soldier Švejk”. It tells of the adventures of a Czech soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, drawing richly from the author’s own experiences. But Hašek was also a prolific writer of short stories. Even though he died before his fortieth birthday, he produced nearly fifteen hundred stories, and we can now enjoy a selection of these in English in a new translation by Mark Corner. David Vaughan reports.