In a week’s time one corner of Letná Plain will become a circus ground, complete with a couple big tops and even a small greenhouse, as part of the sixth edition of cirque nouveau festival Letní Letná. The event (19–31 August) will host 28 circus and theatre companies from France and the Czech Republic.
Cirque Nouveau emerged in France in 1970 as a reaction to the drop in interest in traditional circus performances and a growing demand for alternative forms of entertainment. The new forms lean more towards theatre, and the performances convey stories or themes using a wide range of art forms.
Letní Letná will introduce local audiences to three French circus companies led by Cirque Trotolla and representing the “classical” new circus.
Atelier Lefeuvre & André will build their a tent-cum-greenhouse full of flowers where two mad gardeners will take visitors on a short but intense ride full of acrobatics and garden tools.
Le Boustrophédon, made up of 2007 graduates of a French circus school, brings a performance combining puppets and live actors. Their performance Court-Miracles was inspired by the artists’ stay in the Gaza Strip and features half-sized creatures caring for wounded soldiers in a field hospital.
Czech adherents to new circus will be represented by an ensemble led by performance artist Rostislav Novák and directed by Martin Kukučka a Lukáš Trpišovský, who work collectively as Skutr.
A performance called La Putyka brings together Czech trampoline acrobatics champions, dancers and a wushu martial-arts master. The performance, accompanied by live band Tros Discotekos, attempts to recreate the unique atmosphere of Czech pub culture.
Other Czech performances offer alternative theatre, including DAMU theatre academy students with their punk fairy-tale take on Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk’s founding of Czechoslovakia. Theatre company Krepsko will introduce a cabaret of endangered and lost creatures, existences, behaviours and thoughts.
This year’s festival will also feature an open stage for short acts, two-day workshops on trapeze acrobatics and wheel gymnastics, led by professional circus performers and gymnastics instructors. There’s also daily programme for kids which includes painting, mask-making and games.