Prague Fringe 2011
10 Years of the Fringe
For me it was a Bowie-esque musical on the life of Nikolas Tesla. For you it may have already happened once or it may be waiting around the corner in some theatre or performance space you've never even heard of. Either way some of the best theater you'll ever see, the stuff that will really hit you and stay with you, will almost certainly be a show you had no idea about, the performance you stumbled into whilst searching for the bar. And there's a excellent chance you'll discover several of those gems at this year's Prague Fringe, 27th May - 4th June at 9 venues in and around Mala Strana.
The Fringe celebrates its 10th year this year and is bigger than ever (with over 39 companies performing an astonishing total of 246 shows over the course of 9 days). With a mixture of comedy, theatre and music provided by acts from all over the world there's a real sense of intimacy and excitement as performers and punters alike scurry from venue to venue, mingle and swap tips on the hot tickets. With shows of between 45-60 minutes and prices kept at 150kc the chance to take in 2, 3, 4 or even 5 shows a night the opportunity really is on to abandon your grip on reality and dive into a fantastic and utterly eclectic variety of music and shows.
The Prague Fringe operates like other fringe festivals around the world in that performers apply and take on some of the cost of putting up and promoting their shows, meaning that absolutely everyone has a stake in the festival. Over the 9 days the buzz this creates in Mala Strana can approach Edinburgh's Royal Mile as performers jostle for an audience and audiences search for the best shows. Indeed, the Fringe founders were originally working at the Edinburgh Fringe and wanted to bring a slice of Scotland's festival back to Prague. Ten years on, with performers from all over the world applying to be part of the festival "...a real sense of community and ownership of the whole Fringe emerges" says festival organiser Steve Gove. "With everybody chipping in, from performers to the volunteer assistants [many of who make their own way to the Czech Republic just to part of the festival] the Fringe develops its own spirit and vibe" as theater goers mix with the artists, organizers and other audience members in a way that simply can't happen at individual shows.
The 10th Fringe starts on Friday 27th May with 'Pop up Fringe' - a new daily preview of Fringe performances - at Belushi's Bar at 12pm - and the shows start at various venues across Mala Strana from 4pm. Details of all the shows, venues and performance times can be found at praguefringe.com. Prague TVwill be carrying daily reviews and discussion of the shows and we hope you'll let us know when you stumble across your own musical Tesla.
Jim High is co-producer at Prague's Blood, Love and Rhetoric Theatre
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