Prague Fringe Festival launches with ‘cream of the crop’

'Echoes', photo: archive of Prague Fringe Festival

One of the biggest events of the English-language cultural calendar in Prague starts on Friday. For those not in the know – that’s the Prague Fringe Festival – and it continues for a whole nine days.

'Echoes',  photo: archive of Prague Fringe Festival
Cabaret, dance, pantomime and puppets, all the genres around come together in the annual Prague Fringe Festival. This year is a round number, it’s the 15th Prague Fringe Festival, and over the last decade and a half it’s developed into the longest running and biggest English –language theatre festival on the Continent.

This year the festival hosts a total of 273 performances with acts and actors from around the globe. Festival co-founder Steve Gove was asked to gives a rundown of some of the highlights on offer.

“Well, its incredibly difficult. We have got 562 shows from all over the world coming to Prague this week. But, if I were to choose one or two I would definitely point you in the direction of a show called Echoes by a British playwright and actor called Henry Naylor. It has just been winning awards all over the world, including Brighton Fringe and it won awards at Adelaide Fringe earlier this year. It is a fantastic, delicate, story of two British women born 175 years apart: one is a Jihadi bride and one is a Victorian pioneer. And their stories unfold in front of us in the beautiful theatre of Inspirace, Divadlo Inspirace, on Malostanské Náměstí.”

Steve Gove,  photo: Jan Velinger
Any other highlights?

“Well, in a totally different vein we have got a comedy duo from the states coming called Zach and Ziggo. We don’t know these guys. They applied to take part in the festival back in August and they sounded fantastic and their show sounded wonderful and we said ‘Why not, let’s take a risk on them.’ And since then, they have been performing at various festivals including Brighton. And just last week there they won the audience awards and have been selling out all their shows. It’s a comedy, clowning act and it’s sure to please all. It’s going to take place in Divadlo na Prádle down in Bedsední Street.”

Now, the 15th year, that’s a round number, but how difficult is it to keep the fringe as fringe and not get too conventional?

Zach and Ziggo,  photo: archive of Prague Fringe Festival
“Right from the beginning we had very clear ideas of what we wanted to do to keep it fringey and not allow it to become commercial. The thing that makes Prague Fringe different to Edinburgh or Adelaide fringes, for example, is that anyone can apply. It’s an open access festival that anyone can apply to, but with Adelaide and Edinburgh there are no restrictions. As long as you can find a theatre and as long as you have registered in the programme, you can bring your show to the fringe. But in Prague it’s very different. We receive applications from almost a couple of hundred acts each year but we only have slots available for from 45 to 50. We have a select number of theatres and we stick to that number of theatres, usually seven or eight each year. So we are able to choose from a really good selection of acts that apply and we choose from the cream of the crop.”

You can find details of the festival offering at