The Prague Fringe festival is about to start its 18th edition. The festival runs for nine days between May 24 and June 1, with a total of 242 performances.
All the shows run about one-hour, and they take place in eight venues spread across Prague’s Malá Strana district. This makes it easy to see several shows in one night. Shows are nonverbal or English-friendly and have been selected from all over the world.
The main venue is Malostranská beseda, located at Malostranské náměstí. It has two venues, the main hall, and the inner foyer. Actors and festival regulars also tend to congregate at the bar in the evenings.
Other venues range in size from proper theaters like A-Studio Rubin and divadlo Kampa to the tiny sub-basement at the Golden Key and a minuscule but charming space at the Museum of Alchemists.
There’s a mix of shows that have already won awards and brand new offerings making their debut. A special focus this year is on work created by and featuring women. Performances range improv comedy and cabaret to fully staged dramas.
There is a new play from multi-award winner Henry Naylor called Crime Story, and BBC 4’s Sarah Kendall presents an eponymous stand-up show.
Some productions take inspiration from classical literature. UK-based Rendered Retina Theatre Company has three actors playing 18 roles in a comedic version of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. Also from the UK, Fetch Theatre puts on Caliban’s Codex, an extension of themes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Sweden’s Skottes Musikteater offers up a puppetry show of musical comedy in the normally not so funny The Story of Faust, based on the 16th-century tale.
Brazilian card magician Ewertom Martins is back with El Diablo of Cards 2.0. His incredible closeup magic shows often sellout. Fans of improv can look forward to The Wimps Show, back from last year but different every night.
Comedy duo Nathan & Ida also return with a show called Tropez!, an adventure set on the Riviera. Another perennial favorite is Twonkey, with Twonkey’s Ten Year Twitch. His surreal, stream-of-consciousness humor is not for everyone, though.
A special event is the screening of the film Meeting Jim, on June 1 at Malostranská beseda at 3 pm. The documentary looks at Jim Haynes, a key figure in arts and especially the Fringe movement.
An online festival program can be browsed by date, genre, country or category. People can log into the My Fringe zone to create and export a calendar of shows they want to see.
Tickets can be purchased through the Fringe website. Some of the more popular shows sell out, so tickets might not always be available at the door.
The festival has grown a lot since it was launched in 2002 and attracted around 400 theatergoers. Now it draws in more than 6,000 patrons, many of whom travel from other countries just to see the festival.
The program and more information here
Author: Raymond Johnston