La Putyka – The Czech pub meets New Circus
Just a few days ago the Czech Republic’s Cirk Putyka performed for the 65th time its acclaimed La Putyka, a show which combines the setting of a Czech pub with dance, music, acrobatics and puppetry. In short, elements typical of New Circus. Authored by performer Rosťa Novák, La Putyka (which is slang for pub or run-down dive), was featured in a slimmed-down version this year at the Czech Expo in Shanghai, and this weekend will premiere for the first time in English in the Czech capital.
“I come from a family of puppeteers going back eight generations. So that’s one thing: my father was also an actor at the Ypsilon studio. And our extended family still runs a traditional circus. So I was exposed to all kinds of influences from an early age. Later, when I studied at DAMU, our professor Josef Krofta exposed us to different styles and genres and New Circus. I fell in love with how ensembles worked with movement and was fascinated with how New Circus used theatrical elements and story. Productions had an overarching idea and theme.”
The central themes in La Putyka are alcohol and the dreams of characters visiting a traditional Czech pub: a little run-down joint where regulars stare into their beer, pub floozies flirt with young upstarts and so on. Not surprisingly, the central character who holds it all together is the “hospodskej” (or barkeeper) who imagines and presents much of what the audience sees. Rosťa Novák again: “A lot of it is in the barkeeper’s head and the opening is slow. Czech pubs are often full of people talking but there can also be lonely souls sitting quietly over their beer, thinking about their lives, in their own heads. People think about what they’ve done well, what they’ve done wrong, and fantasy plays an important part. For the barkeeper as well.”
By contrast one of the things that are constant, tying it all together as is typical for New Circus, is the music, performed live by the trio tros discotecos:
“They are really talented guys and the advantage is that they are all also professional actors. As a band they are really tight and they keep the tempo during the show. The music is 90 percent original and it’s live – something which belongs in any real circus. Live music lifts the audience out of their seats!”
“It was written by my dad and it is authentic about his demon, alcohol. Even viewers who don’t know the story who enjoy the song, understand there is a darker message. There’s the line ‘When the fifth summer of boozing had ended, I’d given up the ghost and evaporated…’ Everything moves so quickly today and sometimes five years to reach this point is all it takes.”
You can find more information about La Putyka at laputyka.cz.