Malá Inventura celebrates new theater

New productions and new trends are in the 15th edition of the festival

The Malá Inventura festival of new theater is starting its 15th year and will run from Feb. 22 to March 1, with further events in Jičín, České Budějovice, Opava and Jihlava. Many but not all of the presentations in Prague will be nonverbal or have English surtitles.

In Prague, the main venues are Jatka 78, Studio Alta, Alfred ve dvoře, Venuše ve Švehlovce, divadlo Archa, Ponec, NoD, DOX, MeetFactory, Studio Hrdinů and La Fabrika, and the festival will last eight days. This is big jump from two venues and three days in 2002.

The main part of the festival is the New Theater showcase, which shows highlights of the previous year. “We present a recapitulation of significant interdisciplinary projects [and] we reflect developments and trends of new theater in the Czech Republic. … The showcase is supplemented by several foreign productions,” the organizers said.

The festival kicks Feb. 22 off with Cirk La Putyka performing Black Black Woods at Jatka 78. The piece concerns rules, some thousands of years old, that cannot be broken.

The local group Farm in the Cave performs a piece called Disconnected at DOX on Feb. 26 and 27. It is described as something between an installation and documentary and physical theater.

One visitor to the festival is performance artist Valencia James, from the Barbados but now based in Budapest. On Feb. 27 at Studio Alta she will perform Between the World and Me, a reflection on living in a predominantly white Central European society as a woman of Afro-Caribbean origin. The short piece is on the same program as Loneliness and Stuff by the Czech group Ufftenživot. The piece is about the search for happiness.

Alfred ve dvoře on Feb. 25 presents Plan B, performed by Timothy and the Things, a group from Hungary. The piece looks at different characters and their options.

Also visiting is the Bulgarian group Vox Populi performing Mir Vam (Peace Be With You), a documentary theater performance based on field recordings from refugee camps in Bulgaria and on the border with Turkey. They perform Feb. 28 at Venuše ve Švehlovce.

A highlight in the festival is Busking Un/Limited by Spielraum Kollektiv at divadlo Archa. It explores the lives of street performers in Prague.

Another important part of the festival is Migratory Birds, independent projects in new theater that have their origins in the domestic theater scene but are not tied to a specific space. There are six events in this section, but most are in Czech. The dance piece Un on Feb. 28 at Studio Alta has no language barrier.

New Blood on the Stage is a showcase for emerging artists, providing them with a chance to be noticed at the start of their careers. Three events in this category will take place in Studio Alta and the fourth in La Fabrica.

There are also workshops and events for children, discussions on the future of theater and opportunities for professionals to network. There are many more productions, and the fun of a festival like this is stumbling into the unknown and finding a hidden treasure.

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