Theater festival takes place in Plzeň

Czech and visiting plays will be presented with English titles

The 25th International Theater Festival (Mezinárodní festival Divadlo) takes place in Plzeň from Sept. 13 to 21 at various venues in the West Bohemian city.

The plays will be in a variety of languages, but all of the main program will have English surtitles, as well as Czech when needed. This gives people who don't speak Czech a chance to catch up on recent domestic productions as well as seeing what is going on in the region.

The festival will have 50 presentations from 29 groups from Belgium, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Foreign productions have increased over previous years, and the productions are also all ones that have had premieres in the past year, so viewers will be able to see the most current theater trends.

One of the highlights is the black comedy Tristesses, presented by Belgian troupe Das Fräulein (Kompanie). The production, set on an island just ahead of national elections, played to acclaim in Avignon and Berlin.

From Poland, Łaźnia Nowa Theatre presents All About My Mother. The original play is not an adaptation of the film with the same name, but reminiscences by two authors about their mothers, who both died when the authors were young. The play explores memory and the thin line with fiction.

Also from Poland, TR Warszawa explores the life of minimalist composer Tomasz Sikorski in the play Holzwege, The composer died under mysterious circumstances. The play is combined with the composer's music.

Hungarian troupes are offering two literary adaptations. Crime and Punishment is staged by Vígszínház, but by Czech director Michal Dočekal. Vígszíhnáz was founded in 1896 and is considered one of the most important cultural institutions in Hungary.

Gogol's Diary of a Madman is a co-production between the Katona József Theatre, the MASZK Association (Szeged), the FÜGE and the Orlai Production Office. The production has earned good reviews for its intensity and humor.

The National Theatre Târgu-Mureș of Romania performs in both Romanian and Hungarian. They present the psychological drama Tranquility, about a once-famous actress who no longer leaves her apartment.

Slovakia steps up with God Is a DJ, staged by the new company Petr Mankovecký Theatre. Falk Richter’s cult play, written 20 years ago, delves into modern social media and the quest for reality-show fame.

The Czech theater scene is also well-represented. The award winning play Olga (Horror Stories from Hráčedek) from Letí Theatre, takes us to the life of Olga Havlová, first wife of Václav Havel, at a country cottage in the village of Hrádeček in east Bohemia.

Another biography is Liduschka (Baarová), from J. K. Tyl Theatre. The controversial Czech actress Lída Baarová, the mistress of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, is at the center of variety show-style production.

J. K. Tyl Theatre also goes into crime territory with The Talented Mr. Ripley, from the novel by Patricia Highsmith. The story of an ambitious drifter has been filmed twice, and now is adapted for the stage.

Divadlo pod Palmovkou, now in its 70th year, presents the classic Henrik Ibsen play Nora (A Doll’s House), with a modern look at the roles.

Refugee Conversations, by Divadlo v Dlouhé, features music by the Tiger Lillies as a backdrop to two people who fled a country discuss various topics but reach few conclusions.

Czech star Ivan Trojan appears in Resurrection, staged by Dejvice Theatre. It is presented as the dramatization of short stories by an unknown author.

The epilogue of the festival will have the classic Czech play The Lantern, by Alois Jirásek, presented by Divadlo v Dlouhé, and The Jester and his Son, by Bolek Polívka Theatre, starring Bolek Polívka and his son, Vladimír Polívka.

These are just some of the highlights of the Czech productions. There is also a side program with films and live music, not all of which is English-friendly.

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