From a new drive-in to free ballet, Prague's culture scene springs back to life this week

The debut of free streaming ballet at the State Opera and FAMU fest are online highlights, while new exhibits from Signal Fest and NG offer fresh-air fun!

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 27.04.2021 15:14 (updated on 27.04.2021)

Culture is slowly springing back to life with several online events, a few public exhibitions, and the reopening of drive-in theaters. In addition, museums and galleries are opening in three Czech regions – Hradec Králové, Plzeň, and Karlovy Vary – as of May 3, and will open in more regions when conditions allow.

Signal festival has launched the outdoor exhibit The Room of Change, by the Italian studio Accurat. Large illuminated boxes track the changes in the earth’s environment by using NASA photos and current data. It runs from noon to midnight on the Brussels Road in Výstaviště, near the new playground. But if you want to catch it you have to hurry, as it closes April 28.

The Room of Change, by the Italian studio Accurat. (Photo: Signal)
The Room of Change, by the Italian studio Accurat. (Photo: Signal)

The Czech National Ballet will present the Czech premiere of a new production of Sleeping Beauty. It will stream on YouTube from the State Opera on April 29 at 7 p.m., and be available for free until May 5. The production is Czech National Ballet’s contribution to the celebration of International Dance Day 2021. Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty was first performed in 1890 in St Petersburg. It has been a staple ever since.

While it has been in Prague, of course, countless times before, it will now be presented with choreography by prima ballerina Márcia Haydée, this version was first seen in Stuttgart in 1987 and has since traveled to Chile, Belgium, Australia, South Korea, Sweden and Canada. It will be performed to recorded music by the Santiago de Chile Philharmonic Orchestra.

The 37th edition of Famufest has both online and public events. FAMU is the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. After online opening ceremony at 6 p.m., screenings of films will begin at 6:30 p.m. on April 28 on the Famufest website. Each day, three blocks of student films will premiere, and they will be available to watch for 72 hours. The festival will come to an end May 2 at 8 p.m,. with a screening of the winning films at Autokino Strahov.

As part of Famufest, an exhibition of 16 artworks will take place at U Stýblů Palace, the passage on Wenceslas Square that leads to the Franciscan Garden as well as to the Světozor Passage. The festival will also include music, performances, and podcasts that can be seen or heard online. More information and a compete program can be found here.  

The annual Prague Spring festival of classical music will present 23 concerts online for free on the festival website, starting May 12 at 8 p.m. with Smetana’s  “Má vlast ” (My Country), performed by Collegium 1704 under the baton of Václav Luks. “Má vlast ” is the traditional opening of the festival, and usually performed by a visiting orchestra but changes had to be made to the program due to the pandemic. Selected concerts will be broadcast by Czech Television and Czech Radio. The festival runs to June 3. The concert schedule and more information can be found on the festival website.

“The program on offer represents a point of intersection of the best that the restrictions have allowed – not only in the Czech Republic but also with respect to the guest appearances of foreign artists both here and abroad – and the funding options of the festival, given the huge losses in revenue from ticket sales, which covers as much as one-third of our costs,” festival director Roman Bělor said.  

Cinemas remain closed, and there have been few new releases in the past year save for video on demand from streaming services. But there are drive-ins showing retrospective programs. Autokino Strahov is already open, on the side of Strahov Stadium in Prague 6. The schedule is available on the drive-in’s website, and tickets are on the Goout network.  

AutoKina Ledárny (Photo: Artcam)
AutoKina Ledárny (Photo: Artcam)

A drive-in will open at the former ice house in Braník in Prague 4 on April 29 at 8:30 pm. AutoKino Ledárny will have programming by film distributor ArtCam, with a mix of popular movies and classics. The opening film on the schedule is the classic “Rebel Without a Cause” starring James Dean. Films announced for May include “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Exorcist,” and “Casblanca.”

“We are happy to participate in a project that allows you to meet and experience new and classic films in a group. Even though it is a group on four wheels,” Artcam director Vít Schmarc said.

Screenings will take place on Thursdays and Fridays. There are spaces for 75 cars. When pandemic conditions allow, there will also be seating for spectators. Food from Podolí restaurant Rest will include burgers, hot dogs, and of course popcorn. The food will be served in a box, and people have to eat in their cars as outdoor dining and consumption of alcohol is still forbidden. The program and menu are available online, and tickets can be purchased via the website.

Museums, galleries, monuments, and some other cultural objects are reopening in Hradec Králové, Plzeň, and Karlovy Vary regions as of May 3, and other regions will follow when the local pandemic conditions allow. There should be 15 square meters per visitor, and they will be required to maintain a spacing of at least two meters unless they are from a common household. They will also have to wear respirators. Group tours won’t be allowed.

For those who want to see something right away, the National Gallery in Prague’s venue at Veletržní palác has an outdoor exhibition called Art Happens Outside, running until June 1. It uses photographs to highlights art events that took place outdoors over the course of several decades, and emphases the importance of public spaces, which have become even more crucial during the pandemic.

Once museums and galleries open in Prague, people can look forward to an exhibition of paintings by Toyen at the National Gallery in Prague’s venue at the Wallenstein Riding School. Toyen: The Dreaming Rebel has been in place since April 9, despite the galley being closed, and will run until Aug. 15. It is the first large exhibition of her works in Prague since 2000. Toyen is one of the best-known Czech surrealists. She spent most of her career living in France.  

Czech Press Photo exhibition at the National Museum. (Photo: National Museum
Czech Press Photo exhibition at the National Museum. (Photo: National Museum

 The 26th edition of the Czech Press Photo exhibition for the first time will take place in the Historical Building of the National Museum once it is allowed to reopen. It will run until the end of October. Winning pictures will be supplemented selected key moments of the year and other images. In total, visitors will see 450 photos. People can also watch the online opening with a guided tour on the social networks of the National Museum and Czech Photo on April 28 from 6 p.m.

The winning photo by ČTK photographer Roman Vondrouš captured a man passing through a disinfection gate. The international jury selected the winner from more than 5,000 images from 288 authors.

“The Czech Press Photo exhibition is an extraordinary exhibition that was created at an extraordinary time and takes place in the extraordinary premises of the National Museum. … Hopefully our visitors will soon be able to see it together with other exhibitions that are prepared for them in the National Museum,” National Museum director general Michal Lukeš said.

Veronika Souralová, director of Czech Photo, said it was difficult to organize the exhibition but they did not want to break the tradition by skipping a year. “Thanks to the pictures of our best photojournalists, [visitors] will get closer to the pictures and recap the past year,” she said.