Stream Prague's favorite English-friendly theater festival for free this year

The Prague Fringe Festival is bringing its magical lineup to the virtual stage for the first time ever!

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 20.11.2020 13:14 (updated on 20.11.2020)

A long-held local theater tradition and highly anticipated annual event among Prague's English-speaking community is moving into the online space this year.

Prague Fringe Reimagined (Nov. 24–29) promises puppet theater for all ages, physical theater, multi-media performance and more, all streamed free of charge in high-definition video. The shows will be available not only in Prague but also to a global audience.

All performances are either non-verbal, in English, or performed in Czech with English subtitles. After the premiere performances of the shows on the Prague Fringe website, they will remain available online for a few weeks.

Mir.Theatre and Plata Company present Prefabs
Mir.Theatre and Plata Company present Prefabs. (photo: Prague Fringe)

A live festival was originally planned for May, but due to coronavirus restrictions, the organizers were forced to reschedule it just days before the planned launch of ticket sales. The team quickly pulled together a spontaneous small digital event called Prague Fringe Online during the planned festival dates in May.

A full festival was then planned for the autumn, but that too had to be sidelined when restrictions on public gatherings were again put in place due to a spike in coronavirus cases. This has caused the Fringe team to adapt yet again with Prague Fringe Reimagined.

“It's been a long and challenging year for our team, as well as for our artists and fellow Fringe organizers all over the world. … Despite everything that 2020 has thrown at us, we're determined to continue to adapt and persevere with our entirely reimagined version of the Fringe this November,” Prague Fringe founder Steve Gove said.

“I am very excited that we are now able to present live theater albeit not for a live audience. It’s an interesting and welcome twist for us to present the Czech Republic to the world rather than the other way round. Watch this space — we may do it again!” Gove added.

During the online festival audiences can experience some of the best new productions the Czech Republic has to offer. The live performances will be filmed with multiple cameras for a more engaging experience. Other festivals in the 250-strong Fringe network around the world will share the content with their audiences as far away as Australia.

The festival program has eight performances, kicking off with "Sávitrí," presented with English subtitles by Divadlo Líšeň of Brno. Shadows of puppets on paper are accompanied by music from handmade instruments. A narrator tells the story of an Indian princess and her attempt to save her husband. The same troupe also presents "Bound by Grass" (Spoutaný trávou), using puppets and shadows to explore respect for life.

There are three more puppet shows in the festival, all by Prague-based companies. "The Smallest Sámi (Nejmenší ze Sámů),"presented by Československé klacky, is an Arctic adventure featuring a small member of the indigenous Sámi people who sets out with his reindeer to search for food.

Mir.Theatre offers "μSputnik," a short play about the Soviet satellite. The action takes place in a miniature theater and is filmed through a tiny viewing hole. A second performance with a backstage camera will show how the production is done.

Plata Company takes us to the Alaska gold rush with "The One Thousand Dozen (Tisíc tuctů)." Only a fool would undergo the hardships required by the expedition, or someone consumed by the knowledge that they owe something to their lives.

Mir.Theatre and Plata Company combine forces for the multimedia presentation "Prefabs" (Prefaby). Everyday life for three neighbors in Eastern block high-rise housing unfolds on a tabletop. A soundscape and other techniques bring life to the daily drudgery.

Fans of physical theater can look forward to "Roselyne" by ProFitArt. The title character is plagued by worries and wants to become invisible. She is a reflection of all of our self-doubts.

For slightly more traditional theater, there is Wo(e)men Mistressed (Soul(ó)ženy) from Prague’s Maso krůtí company. The play asks how women can be expected to live up to social ideals from the last century that don’t easily combine in modern times. The play will be followed by an online Q&A.

The play asks how women can be expected to live up to social ideals from the last century that don’t easily combine in modern times. It will be followed by an online Q&A.

There will also be an accompanying program of seven events including post-show talks, virtual workshops, and webinars with artists and theater industry professionals from the Czech Republic and abroad.

The festival is made possible this year by a grant supporting digital art from the Czech Ministry of Culture as well as funding from the Avast Foundation and the City of Prague.

This year's edition of Prague Fringe will be online Nov. 24–29 due to the coronavirus pandemic. For more information visit the festival website or Facebook page.