Scaling Back Respect
With Mařan’s backing, the fledgling festival quickly won the approval of then-President Havel, whose program of cultural openness concerned itself acutely with the Castle, long seen as a symbol of the forbidding remoteness and inapproachability of the socialist regime. Last year’s festival featured Manu Chao on the Castle meadow, one of the most successful and well-attended events Respect has ever hosted. Six seasons on, the incredibly popular series has run head-on into a brick wall in the form of the new administration of Václav Klaus – or, to be exact, the absence of an administration. With little explanation proffered and precious little time left to find a new venue, no one dares grant approval for the festival to occupy its traditional spot on the Prague Castle meadow. Festival founder Holeček sees it as yet another example of how the more things change, the more they remain the same, an old adage of particular poignancy to a city increasingly aware of the fact that it has, perhaps, sold its soul (or had its soul sold out from under it).
“By now I usually have fliers all over the city, but this year I don’t even know where it’s going to be held,” says Holeček, whose visible resignation seems more and more a ubiquitous part of Prague. Wandering over the grounds of a possible surrogate venue in the center of the city, his expert eye picks out a series of flaws—poor security options, safety issues, insufficient electric supply. “What’s happening now is a great pity. The people who have come to power now are really operating on fear for their jobs; they perceive that Klaus was against what Havel did, and so everything that happened at the Castle before cannot happen again. This is not responsible government, it is the rule of psychopaths. In the end, nothing has really changed after almost 15 years.”
Unsurprisingly, Richard Vidlička, the new director of programs at the Castle, was unable to comment on anything more substantive than the beautiful weather when contacted by the Pill. “The press department is quite new and they like to check all the comments before they are released,” says the new director, whose timidity Holeček ascribes to typical Czech lack of courage. “I have the feeling that if you were in his office and you asked, ‘Can I move this chair two meters to the right?’ he would answer that he doesn’t know, that he has to check.” Despite Vidlička’s assurance that our questions would be addressed, no response was received by press time. “Everyone there is afraid of making a decision,” says Holeček. “They send everything up to the president’s office for approval.”
Holeček isn’t retreating into his victim complex, though it presents an easy way out for many who see the city’s shrinking cultural endowments as a symptom of the eternal EU blandness to come. “I see other promoters, who’ve been operating here for much less time than I have, operating successfully. It all comes down to sponsorship—to selling yourself. It seems like this is more important than the music, the message or even the intent of the event itself.”
“I don’t think that this is some particular issue Klaus’ administration has with the [Respect] festival—they’ve been cancelling everything, even contemporary classical concerts,” Holeček continues. “One good thing that Havel did was that he tried to reinvent the public perception of the Castle. I imagine it will be more and more closed as the new people do their best to avoid notice and keep their jobs. In the end, it will be as it was: a forbidden place that serves as another symbol separating the people from the government.”
The Respect festival will be held this year, thanks in large part to the dedication of the organizers and the support of the city administration of Prague 1. In addition to hunting down a new venue, Holeček is also plying the Indonesian embassy for assistance with staging a concert of the 18-member Javanese band Samba Sumba. The festival will also feature the Moroccan Gnawa Halva, representing Berber musical traditions, and Achanak, stars of the British/Indian Bhangra scene. The legendary Skatalites, Jamaica’s godfathers of reggae and ska, will headline the festival, which will likely be held at Štvanice. Rumors have been circulating that Rachot may have a world music stage at this year’s Creamfields megafestival, which will likely be headlined by Massive Attack. The show will go on, but the sparkle is fading, supplanted by the neon glitz of Semtex inflatables and the muted fastness of castle gates.
Micah Jayne might be at firstname.lastname@example.org, but no one will tell you if he is.
Video on YouTube
Opera review: Carl Off's Die Kluge and Der Mond by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Two fairytale operas are staged with a sense of fun for a wide audience
Last Year in Marienbad - A Film as Art by Olivia Marcus - Anglo American University (Foto: Gallery Anita Beckers, Frankfurt)
@ Galerie Rudolfinum till November 27, 2016
PRAHAha comedy festival starts soon by PRAHAha Int. Comedy Festival - Prague.TV
An international festival features more than 50 stand-up comedy acts
Two operas by Orff premiering at the National Theatre by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The works are based in Brothers Grimm stories and have a wide appeal
Czech Press Photo opens a new gallery by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: czechpressphoto.cz)
The Czech Photo Centre will create a new space for artworks
Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale to play two shows only by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Prague Shakespeare Company will bring Bohemia's coast to the Estate's Theatre
Chuck Palahniuk coming to Prague Writers' Festival by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Fight Club author headlines the list of this year's novelists and poets
Švandovo divadlo celebrates 135th anniversary by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The city's third-oldest theater has had many names over the years
Signal Festival 2016 will light up Prague by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The festival of light art is the biggest cultural event in the country
State Opera productions are now at Karlín by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Narodni Divadlo)
A long-planned renovation has pushed the program to a new home
Petra Měchurová Hair Salon right in the historical center...
Looking for a memorable experience in Prague?
Prague.TV users have a 50% discount on Pivovar Lužinys...
Ready-made company from COMEFLEX
Trabant Museum @ STK Motol
Armádní muzeum Žižkov
Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády
Goout.cz Tickets for Cultural Events in Prague