Letní Letná celebrates 15 years

The festival of new circus will run for two weeks in Prague's Letná park

The Letní Letná festival of new circus celebrates its 15th year. The festival runs Aug. 15 to Sept. 2 in and around circus tents at Prague's Letná park.

The festival showcases performances that use traditional circus skills like acrobatics, clowning and juggling but in a modern interpretation. The presentations often tell a story, and sometimes are aimed at more mature audiences.

The printed program for this year's festival marks which shows have no language barrier with a smiley face symbol, and also gives age recommendations.

Organizers say this year's edition will offer everything from extreme performances to gentle poetry, from thrilling adventures to uncontrollable bouts of laughter, from top acrobatics to playful clowning, and from spectacular performances to street circuses.

“When we started, I honestly believed that the new circus was beautiful, liberal, romantic, creative and exciting. I believed it had a future and that it made sense to persuade the wider audience. And my persistence persists!” Jiří Turek, director and founder of Letní Letná, said.

Over the course of 15 years, the festival has had 1,500 presentations seen by more than 320,000 spectators. An exhibition of photographs will show some of the history.

The opening on Aug. 15 and 16 will be a spectacular birthday party in the open air, and entry will be free. More than 30 artists, clowns, dancers and musicians from the Czech Republic and from abroad, under the direction of Daniel Gulko, will showcase their skills in a performance created for this occasion. It is called De Nova Stella, or a new star, and is inspired by the work of astronomer Tycho de Brahe.

The festival headliners include several groups from France. Baro d'Evel Cirk Cie presents Bestias, which explores the borders between the world of humans and the world of animals. Bipedal, quadrupedal and winged artists are together in a double circus tent. Unusual for new circus, this show includes horses.

Cirque Inextremiste performs Extension, creating a world of danger, risk, roughness and politically incorrect humor. The acrobatic trio was at Letní Letná before with Extrêmités, and this show pushed boundaries further. The show uses three acrobats, one wheelchair and one excavator to create a high-adrenaline adventure.

Akoreacro / Pierre Guillois offer the European premiere of Dans ton cœur. “What we want to do is to perform top-class acrobatics, but we want to be more than just a display of physical strength and agility. We are trying to find the remains of a popular art that has completely disappeared. … We think of the stage as if it was an ancient arena. We dream of funfairs, and the carnival festivities so full of joy that the circus tent evokes,” says Jeff Pyka from Akoreacro.

The final headliner is Bêtes de foire with petit théâtre de gestes. They invite you to their small family-style circus tent filled with puppets and circus art. The show consists of several small pieces coupled with clownish comicality, jugging, magic tricks and puppets, accompanied by live music.

Aside from the headliners, there is a large selection of Czech and international troupes putting on shows, and an extensive program aimed at children.

Local troupes participating this year include Losers Cirque Company, Divadlo Bolka Polívky, Bratři v tricku and VOSTO5.

Ticket prices vary, depending on the show. The headline shows are between Kč 550 and Kč 720, and the other shows go from Kč 100 to Kč 490. Children's shows are Kč 90.

For more information visit www.letniletna.cz/2018 or www.facebook.com/events.

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