The Letní Letná festival is concentrated in nearly three weeks and presents the best of Czech and international contemporary circus, music, and theatre. It is a rather unique Czech showcase as far as the size is concerned, however, it was forced – like many other cultural events – to tighten its belt due to the coronavirus pandemic. The organizers did not want to withhold the traditional summer showcase and prepared a “light version”. Despite all the obstacles, the programme in August offered 70 performances, including the world premiere, in eight days. The performances were attended by 25,000 viewers.
Yet there was no other choice than to move some parts of the programme to 2021 and waiting will be worth it. “The first announced company is the famous NoFit State Circus,“ says Jiří Turek, the director of the festival. Acrobats from the British ensemble presented their art to the Czech audiences six years ago and they will bring a daring, sensual, and very contemporary variation on a circus experience. The production LEXICON directed by Firenza Guidi tells a story about the past, present, and future of the circus, mixing acrobatic performances, film images, and live music.
International reviews appreciate “timeless joy” and the production that “abounds in playfulness, does magic with references to history and destroys a hierarchy”. The Guardian from Great Britain wrote the following about LEXICON: “It’s great to see the clowning spring directly out of the skills themselves: flaming torches constantly set the juggler alight; three men wage a ridiculous war on the Cyr wheel. A hand-balancing act set to haunting klezmer chords is both funny and mournful.“
The viewers at Letní Letná will be entertained by NoFit State Circus with their contemporary circus textbook on 13 August and then every evening until the end of the 18th edition of the festival.
Jiří Turek believes that next year it will be possible to compensate other parts of the programme that could not take place this year. “We are now in touch with companies that should have performed last year,” he says. “We will see how the situation will develop as the dramaturgy is linked to other contemporary circus showcases,” the director adds.
Organizers count with the full programme in 2021. Despite the belief that everything will turn out fine, they are aware that the pandemic can influence the 18th edition as well. “There will be changes if we have to follow governmental safety measures,” says Jiří Turek. This year’s “light version” has brought the experience of how to accommodate the programme and the inspiration of an open-air stage. “We would like to have it next year as well but we will see how everything will fit together,” he comments on the open-air stage in the programme in the future.