“Darker and sexier” Prague Fringe underway


The eighth Prague Fringe Festival got underway on Friday, offering some 200 acts squeezed into nine days of theatre, dance, music, and many other shows. Inspired by the renowned Edinburgh festival, the Prague Fringe has built up quite a following and this year, it's "darker and sexier" than ever.

“The Pen and the Sword” is one of some 200 shows featured in this year’s Prague Fringe Festival. A funny and somewhat didactic take on freedom of speech, it was inspired by the controversy over politically incorrect caricatures of the prophet Mohammed that appeared in some western media. The show premiered on Friday, the first night of the festival, at the Theatre at the Laundry in the historic Malá Strana area below Prague' Castle. The author of the play, Czech-based New-York born playwright Jeff Kellner, explains.

“It’s about a cartoonist who wakes up one night; he’s rudely awoken to discover that fatwa, a death sentence has been placed on his head by a far-away religious leader. But he’s offered a way out.”

The play is in fact one of the few politically-themed performances in this year’s Prague Fringe. The festival’s founder and director Steven Gove says the play was produced especially for the festival.

“New work in theatre that’s been created specially for festivals tends to mirror what’s happening in the world. In Edinburgh a couple of years ago, there was a whole bunch of shows about terrorism; there was even a show about George Bush. So if a new, up and coming theatre company is creating a new piece of work, they’re influenced by what’s happening at any given moment.”

The eighth year of Prague Fringe has brought acts from as far as Australia, Canada, Scotland, Norway and Israel. According to Steven Gove, this year’s festival highlights include the “New Victorian Manifesto” which mixes Baroque harpsichord, synthesizer, drum machine, electric violin and guitar with the words of 19th-century British authors like Emily Bronte and Thomas Hardy; La Ronde - an “erotic black comedy” by the Norwegian group Kompani Krapp, in which the grass is always greener in another bed”, and ”Hansel and Gretel: End of The Fairy Tale,” a monodrama from the point of view of a girl telling her family story, put on by Israel’s Adam Theatre. Steven Gove says that the sole underlying idea behind the event is the variety Prague Fringe has to offer.

“The character of each Fringe is always very different. This year it’s got quite a sexy feel; there is a bit of burlesque, there is some vaudeville, there is some late night cabaret and comedy shows, so it’s got a kind of darker, sexier feel to this year. But not intentionally, it’s just happened organically by the process of the applications and the people who’ve been interested in applying.”

You can find all about this year’s Fringe Festival in Prague at www.praguefringe.com.