National Theatre preparing big live show for audiences at home

Hip-hop trio PSH provide the acoustic backdrop for a ballet performance, photo: archive of National Theatre in Prague

A live three-hour concert is due to take place on Saturday in the historic building of the National Theatre in Prague. Called Nation for Us – Culture for You, it will bring more than 200 performers to six different stages. The event will be broadcast live on Czech Television.

I spoke to one of the event’s initiators, David Gaydečka, of the Prague music festival Metronome and began by asking him how the idea for the project came about:

“In the beginning of December 2020 we were thinking what the culture sector could bring to the public. We decided not to wait until everything is over and agreed that our aim is to entertain the audiences, and we were thinking: how to entertain people when we cannot work with the public?

David Gaydečka | Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“And quite soon this idea came from our discussions with Czech Television to approach the National Theatre and ask them if we could organize a special concert that would be broadcast by Czech TV. And actually, all three sides agreed.”

The event brings together artists of different genres who don’t usually perform together. Can you mention a few highlights from the programme?

“We really wish to entertain as many people as possible, so we decided to show them that music and the theatre scene hold together; and this is why it is a really multi-genre project.

“We have a classical symphony orchestra and the National Theatre ballet. We are bringing together the most famous local Czech bands, such as Lucie or Chinaski, who are usually playing stadiums in the Czech Republic, who will be accompanied by the Symphonic Orchestra.

“On the other hand, we also have hip-hop artists. We have some new ones on the scene, such as 7x3, a very talented band, and we also have the legendary PSH, the oldest Czech hip-hoppers in the country.

“And today, we have also confirmed the cult British group Morcheeba. They will be connecting with us online, and on Saturday there should be a premiere of their new songs, which are coming out on their new album in May, so Czech audiences will be the first to listen to it.”

How difficult was it to organize such a huge event, given the current Covid situation?

“I don’t want to cry or fuss, but it was very difficult. We are three organizations and in just two and a half months we had to learn how to work together.

“There is a huge team of around 200 people working on the event, which is actually one of the benefits: it gives jobs to the organizers and to the artists. So, everyone had to put their part into the project.”

The cultural scene has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis. Is there anything positive that has come out of the crisis for you?

“Yes. It’s teaching us a lot of new skills. We are learning to be more flexible, to be more open to changes and to listen to each other. And the result of our work is coming this Saturday.”

“Another small positive thing amid all the negative aspects is that things can really be done differently. I don’t think you could normally approach the National Theatre two months ahead to ask them if you can do a big concert in their place. It wouldn’t be possible.

“Actually, Slovak organizers and musicians decided, after they saw what we announced, to organize a similar concert. So, maybe a string of such shows in Europe will follow. We hope so. That would be cool!”