Havel's 80th birthday to be celebrated at Lucerna
Forty bands will perform in honor of the former dissident and human rights activist
Former President Václav Havel would have turned 80 this year. To celebrate, a series of events will culminate at Prague's Lucerna Palace on Oct. 15. There will be concerts and other events in the Velký sál, Music Bar, cinema, passage, gallery and other spaces. The event will run from 5 pm to 2 am.
The location isn't a random choice. Lucerna was built and originally owned by Vácslav Havel, the late president's grandfather.
The evening will begin with the gala opening of the exhibition and book launch for Hele, Havel! (Look, Havel!), based on amateur photos. Some 1,300 photos from 200 authors were sent to the Václav Havel Library after a public appeal.
Following the book launch, 40 bands will play music on four stages. In total, there will be a symbolic 80 performers, artists and announcers.
Videos and films about Havel's life will be shown at Lucerna Cinema and in a cafe. The full program has not yet been published.
Havel died Dec. 18, 2011, after having long been in failing health. A similar memorial celebration in 2011 of his life sold out in just two hours.
Aside from being Czechoslovak president from 1989 to 1992 and president of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003, Havel was a poet, playwright and filmmaker. His absurdist plays, which were critical of communism, led him to be blacklisted after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion, and his works could not be performed domestically. He was one of the authors of Charter 77, a protest petition for human rights, and a founder of the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted.
As president, he tried to promote culture in the newly independent country with theater festivals and music. He counted the Rolling Stones and Lou Reed among his friends, as well as human rights activists like the Dalai Lama.
He continued his human rights activism after his presidency by starting Forum 2000, an annual series of lectures, panels and related events. He continued to write, and his play Leaving premiered in 2008. He directed a film version in 2011.
Prague is not the only city to be honoring Havel. Events will take place at Czech Centers in other countries. New York City will celebrate Václav Havel Day on Sept. 28, with the main events at the Bohemian National Hall where Havel's widow, Dagmar, and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová will be guests of honor.
More information about the 80th birthday event in Prague can be found here www.vaclavhavel-library.org
More information of the celebration in New York City is at www.vhlf.org
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