Prague Fringe brings back live acts for a special autumn edition

The festival will mark its 20th anniversary with a selection of international acts performing live in Malá Strana.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 27.10.2021 17:03:00 (updated on 30.10.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague Fringe is back for its 20th anniversary. A special autumn edition will run Nov. 2–7 at two venues in Malá Strana, offering 13 international theater productions.

These will be the Fringe’s first live shows in 18 months, due to the pandemic. But the Fringe has not been inactive.

“After the disappointment of being forced to cancel our 2020 festival just days before launching ticket sales, we’ve produced not one, but three virtual festivals, all of which have been very successful and provided much-needed support and promotion for the artists,” Festival founder and director Steve Gove said.

“However, nothing is quite the same as a ‘real’ Fringe, with the buzz of live performances and audiences together in the venue,” he added.

“We’re delighted to be back in Malá Strana, celebrating our 20th year of doing what we do best – bringing high-quality English-language theater to Prague,” Gove said.

This edition is smaller than previous pre-pandemic festivals, with shows at just the Museum of Alchemists, A Studio Rubín, and Divadlo Inspirace.

Shows include “Swan Woman” by Swedish writer and performer Rebecka Pegershan. Newspaper reports in 2011 claimed a woman was living in a small flat with 13 swans. Pictures were never published, so the incident remains a bit of an urban legend.

"Sensemaker" by Woman’s Move. (Photo via Woman’s Move)

“The Sensemaker” by Swiss theater company Woman’s Move uses physical theater to delve into how technologies like answering machines impact people’s lives. The website Fringe Reviews called it “an astonishing, disturbing shapeshifting sliver of genius.”

English actor Pip Utton will be presenting two works depicting well-known but controversial British political figures: Margaret Thatcher in “Playing Maggie … the Iron Lady” and Winston Churchill in “Churchill.”

Pip Utton as
Pip Utton as "Churchill." (Photo: Facebook)

In “Churchill,” a statue of the former prime minister descends from its stand to have a drink and chat about his life from childhood up through World War II and into his marriages and painting. This effort has garnered many positive reviews, highlighting its humor.

Utton takes a risk in “Playing Maggie”  by allowing questions from the audience and then answering them as Thatcher might. The Daily Telegraph in its review said “Utton was channelling her redoubtable parliamentary spirit.”

Pip Utton as Margaret Thatcher in “Playing Maggie … the Iron Lady.” (Photo via Pip Utton)
Pip Utton as Margaret Thatcher in “Playing Maggie … the Iron Lady.” (Photo via Pip Utton)

Something aimed at families, Cia Tipot’s “Stories For Brave Girls,” inspired by the bestselling children’s book “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.” the show uses puppetry to show figures from the past meeting children of today.

Claire Parry, who studied physical theater at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, brings humor in “Intolerable Side Effects.” The show is described as an absurd, comic, and poignant exploration of the darker side of contraception.

Sarah Stearns’ “Navigate” uses shadows, sound, and movement to create a voyage to the world’s edge. The piece tries to communicate what it means to be foreign and the experience of navigating the world as a woman alone.

Poetry and spoken word are complemented by solo harp music to relate the immigrant experience in Sophie Rocks' show “Notes from Shetland to Shanghai.” The Edinburgh Reporter gave it a five-star review.

In Octopus Soup Theatre’s “No One Is Coming,” the main character weaves stories about growing up surrounded by mental health and addiction issues. Sinéad O'Brien, who created and performed the show, has worked as a resident storyteller for institutions in Ireland and the UK.

There are also four new Czech shows playing as part of Prague Fringe Reimagined at Divadlo Inspirace. These will be performed live and also streamed over the internet. Three are non-verbal and one has simple language. All are aimed at a family audience.

The Prague Fringe Festival began in 2001, modeled on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. That festival has roots going back to 1947, when several theater groups turned up uninvited for the Edinburgh International Festival. Those groups performed in ad-hoc venues on the “fringes” of the official festival.

Over the years, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has grown into the world's largest arts festival, and an international network of similar fringe festivals now exists to showcase short, often hard to classify theater pieces.

Tickets for the Autumn Fringe are already available via the Prague Fringe website.  

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