Divadlo Archa in inter-genre waters for 25 years

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The Archa Theatre in Prague is space which has won a firm position on the cultural map of the capital in 25 years of its existence. The theatre has become famous with staging experimental theatre, music and dance projects, with many of them having been successful abroad. Archa took over the premises of the former E. F. Burian Theatre 25 years ago, on 5 June 1994, and since then it has hosted many famous Czech and international performers.

For many of them this theatre was the first place of their performance in the Czech Republic and behind the Iron Curtain. The first artists who performed together after the reconstruction of three years were the Japanese dancer Min Tanaka and the Welsh musician John Cale, ex-Velvet Underground. This production distinctively foreshadowed the dramaturgy of the theatre: to be a place opened for various, and also unexpected, encounters, and to connect cultures, genres and continents. This was the intention of the sociologist Ondřej Hrab, which described in his interview for the job of the Archa director, and he has been steering the Archa Theatre successfully from the very beginning.

The past years have seen many guests, such as the director Robert Wilson, choreographers Wim Vandekeybus and Jiří Kylián, musicians David Byrne, Philip Glass, Patti Smith, Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, John Mayall or Laurie Anderson, bands Tiger Lillies, Einstürzende Neubauten or Laibach. The companies like Royal Shakespeare Company or Ultima Vez have performed here as well. The American poet Allen Ginsberg had one of his last performances in Archa as well.

The year 2008 saw the world premiere of Leaving written by the playwright and ex-president Václav Havel, directed by David Radok. The story about one politician’s leaving and the other gaining the power, starring Jan Tříska and Zuzana Stivínová, was then staged in many other theatres in the Czech Republic and abroad. The American premiere took place in Philadelphia in 2010. Leaving has been also staged in Russia, Germany, Slovakia or Great Britain.

The Archa Theatre does not have a permanent company, they make their productions as independent projects or in cooperation with other associate organizations in the Czech Republic and abroad. The seat of the Archa Theatre is in the premises of the former D34 Theatre, later E. F. Burian Theatre, in the building of the functionalist bank palace (Legiobanka) built in the rondo-cubist style in 1937-39. It was designed by the architect František Marek, the new interior was designed by the architect Ivan Plicka, theatre technologies were implemented by Miroslav Melena. Audiences can use two multifunctional halls with the capacity up to 1,200 people.