Annual festival gives regional theatres chance to shine in capital

Karlin Musical Theatre

This Sunday the cream of the country's regional theatres will be enjoying the limelight at a gala evening and awards ceremony at Prague's Karlin Musical Theatre. It will be the high point of the annual Ceske Divadlo (Czech Theatre) festival, which gives regional theatres the chance to come to Prague and show they can hold their own with the best the capital has to offer. Ahead of the gala evening I spoke to the festival's organiser, Marek Vesely.

"Twelve years ago when we started thinking about this theatre festival we had information that people were thinking regional theatres perform on an amateur level. We bring them to Prague to show that some productions done outside the capital...that their quality is sometimes higher than productions in Prague."

What kind of reaction have these non-Prague theatres met with in the capital over the years?

"I have to say they are usually very, very happy. For them it's a big opportunity to show the quality of their productions, for the actors and actresses this is a perfect opportunity to show their quality.

"We invited directors and professionals from the theatre and film scene. They can see the actors' quality and sometimes they can choose them for other activities and other productions."

Roughly how many profession theatres are there outside Prague?

"Outside Prague we have approximately 30 theatres."

Are there any particular difficulties when it comes to running a theatre in the provinces?

"Regional theatres are mostly owned or run by municipalities. There is a big problem, because the municipalities' decision as to how much money they can put into the theatre is a question of to be or not to be.

"It is very important to convince them, to explain to them how important the theatre is in the city. I know one or two examples of cities which stopped the activities of their professional theatres, and I think they now have big problems with the atmosphere in their city.

"One of the reasons we are doing this festival is to show how important theatre is in cities."

On Sunday you are holding a gala evening, the first of its kind I believe - what does that kind of event mean to people from regional theatres?

"There is no other occasion in the Czech Republic which provides a platform for professionals from the regions to meet in one place at one time. We will bring a place, a good atmosphere for meeting, talking and thinking about the future."