The Archa Theatre in Prague is renowned as a space where artists and companies from around the world meet and cooperate on projects ranging from contemporary dance, theatre, music, film and multimedia performance. The theatre’s similarly eclectic band in residence – the Allstar Refjúdží Band – emerged a decade ago as part of an Archa project to tell the stories of some refugees in the Czech Republic, in part through their own music.
Novelist and screenwriter Martina Forman settled in the United States in the 1990s after meeting her husband, the great film director Miloš Forman. When we spoke at her apartment overlooking Central Park, the conversation took in her life between New York and Connecticut, her twin sons’ connection to all things Czech, and her husband, who passed away in April at the age of 86. But I first asked Martina Forman about her early days in America.
Most Czechs know the story of the Pied Piper through a writer called Viktor Dyk. His short novel of the same name – Krysař in Czech – is a Czech classic, written on the eve of the First World War. But this is no children’s fairy tale. Dyk’s version of the story is complex and ambiguous, and the Pied Piper himself emerges as a troubled character, part dreamer, part revolutionary. He also seems unnervingly relevant to our own time. Karolinum Press has just published the Pied Piper in English, in an excellent translation by Mark Corner. David Vaughan
One of the new books out marking the anniversary of the end of WWI is a collection of soldiers´ letters, diaries and memoirs giving a personal account of life in the trenches and on the battlefield. The book’s title Zum Befehl, pane lajtnant (which translates as At your command, lieutenant) is taken from the satirical comedy The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hašek. I spoke to one of the book’s co-authors, Pavla Horáková, and began by asking how the idea arose to put together such a collection.
One of the many successful exhibitions marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia is Mini Wonders, which explores the evolution of Czech toy design over the past century. The iconic Czech toys, including the inflatable animal-shaped seats produced by the company Fatra, have already been shown at Czech centres in Tokyo, Jerusalem, London and Prague, and will now travel to Moscow, Warsaw and Bratislava.
Pe’er Friedmann is currently the only active literary translator from Czech into Hebrew. It was his enthusiasm for Karel Čapek, the best-loved Czech writer of the 1920s and 30s, that first brought him from Tel Aviv to Prague eight years ago, and he has been here ever since. In the Czech Republic there is a lively interest in contemporary Israeli writing and at the same time Pe’er has been battling to encourage Israeli publishers to take more interest in Czech literature. He spoke to David Vaughan.
Dining is one of the most important manifestations of material culture. At state dinners the quality of the porcelain and glass used represents a given state. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, we have prepared a photo gallery, documenting the porcelain and glass dining sets used by Czechoslovak and later Czech presidents. They did not necessarily change with every administration, changes in the porcelain, glass and silverware used were usually related to a change of state symbols. So how was the Czech Republic