Where to catch English-language theatre and performance in Prague this fall

Theaters are currently open, and offering some plays in English or with surtitles

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 11.09.2020 18:07:00 (updated on 22.09.2020) Reading time: 5 minutes

Editor’s note: While these theatres performances were confirmed at the time of publication, giving the developing situation with regards to the coronavirus we highly recommend double checking with the venue before you book as well as practice proper hygiene in theatres.

Not being fluent in Czech doesn’t mean you can’t go to the theater. There are several productions in English, plus many with English surtitles.

Cimrman English Theatre puts on new translations of Czech plays by the fictitious writer Jara Cimrman, who was “discovered” by Ladislav Smoljak, Jiří Šebánek, and Zdeněk Svěrák.

The plays feature a lecture about the universal genius Cimrman, and then a play that he allegedly wrote. Much of the dry humor comes from errors and misunderstandings that grow worse as events proceed.

Curtis Matthew and Adam Stewart in The Conquest of the North Pole / via Facebook,@CimrmanEnglishTheatre

The troupe currently performs four different plays with one or two performances per month, and usually they sellout in advance. The plays have surtitles in English to help non-native speakers. These are like subtitles but on top.

Prague Youth Theatre, an ensemble of young actors, is staging the musical comedy The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) on October 2 and 4 at Divadlo Kampa. It was written and created by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, famous for their similar comedy The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987. The humor is somewhat in the style of Monty Python.

complete word of god
The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) / via PYT

The English-language theater scene in Prague is small and quite interconnected. Director Adam Stewart, the founder and artistic director of Prague Youth Theatre, is also a founding member and actor at Cimrman English Theatre.

Another small troupe, Donkey Drop Theatre, will be presenting Burrow and the Edge. The two one-act plays by writer/director Ollie Horsfall feature two actors ans will be staged at Divadlo Na Prádle.

In Burrow, two people wake up in a room with no idea how they got there or how they will get out. The Edge has one character on the edge of a cliff and a woman who comes to save him. Jenn Kirk and Sean Brodeur star in both.

DonkeyDrop Theatre focuses on new writing and giving opportunities to people with a passion for live performance through events, shows and workshops.

The new troupe D’Prompt focuses on contemporary performances of theater pieces that have not been done before or older pieces in a more classical less interpretative style. They perform in English but we also have their scripts translated into Czech for subtitles for every performance.

They have two productions coming up. Two Milligrams, a one act drama written and directed by Levan Maniia, is a one-woman show with support from dancers about a woman stuck in an office by herself just before New Year’s Eve. this will be performed at Divadlo Inspirace.

Journeys End is an emotional portrayal of life and death on the front lines of the British trenches during World War I. This production stars Paul Dean and Peter Hosking. The latter is also a member of Cimrman English Theatre. This is planned for Divadlo Na Prádle.

Songs in English from The Greatest Showman, a 2017 film about circus impresario PT Barnum, are performed in The Greatest Show – Live in Concert at Vinohrady Theatre (Divadlo na Vinohradech). The production includes over 60 performers. A narrator explains the meaning of the songs in Czech, but English speakers should be able to understand the songs without the narrator’s help. The production moved from the Hybernia Theatre, where it premiered.

The Prague Fringe festival will also be presenting plays and other entertainment in English in late November. A schedule has not been released yet.

Prague Shakespeare Company is on hiatus but may announce new productions soon.

There are options to see theater in Czech with English surtitles. Divadlo Na zábradlí and the various venues of the National Theatre all use surtitles for some of their productions. For plays, it is important to check for each show. A play that has surtitles one night might not on the next presentation. Most of the operas at National Theatre venues have both Czech and English surtitles.

Švandovo divadlo na Smíchově is more consistent with their surtitles, having them on most shows.

Another theater option is black light. While there are many shows to choose from, a rarity this season is the premiere of Bon Appétit! from Laterna magika, the group that started the genre. They are now part of the National Theatre and perform on the New Stage.

The National Theatre season also included a diverse line-up for English-speakers; here is the full list of English-friendly performances through December.

While indoor performances are currently permitted, it is important to keep on eye on the changing rules for public gatherings due to the coronavirus and to remember to bring a face covering.

Cimrman English Theatre:
(all shows at Žižkovské divadlo Járy Cimrmana at 7 pm)
Pub in the Glade – September 18
The Stand -In – October 16
The Conquest of the North Pole – October 30
The Act – November 13
The Stand-In – November 27
The Conquest of the North Pole – December 14

DonkeyDrop Theatre
(all shows at Divadlo Na Prádle at 7:30)
Burrow and the Edge — September 18, 19, 26

Two Miligrams — October 9, 13 at 16 at 7 pm, Divadlo Inspirace
Journeys End — Dates to be announced, Divadlo Na Prádle

Na Zábradlí Theatre (Divadlo Na zábradlí)
(all shows at at 7 pm)
Golden Sixties (with English surtitles) — September 15
Velvet Havel (with English surtitles) — September 28
Macbeth (with English surtitles) — October 5
Personas (with English surtitles) — October 19
Europeana (with English subtitles) — October 20
Velvet Havel (with English subtitles) — November 24
Golden Sixties (with English surtitles) — November 25

National Theatre (Národní divadlo)
The four stages of the National Theatre — Historical Building, New Stage, Estates Theatre and State Opera — show plays, opera, ballet and black light shows. Many plays and almost all operas have English surtitles. Ballet and black light has no language barrier. Plays with English surtitles are marked on the website. The State Opera newly has screens with titles on the backs of its seats.

Prague Fringe
Various venues in November

The Complete Word of God (Abridged) — October 2–3 at 7:30 pm, Divadlo Kampa

Švanda Theater in Smíchov (Švandovo divadlo na Smíchově)
(shows at 7 pm)
Most plays are with English surtitles

Vinohrady Theatre (Divadlo na Vinohradech)
The Greatest Show – Live in Concert — September 13 at 8 pm; 20.00
September 27 at 8 pm; October 25 at 3 and 8 pm; November 8 at 3 and 8 pm

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