Laterna Magika’s Wonderful Circus celebrates 40 years from premiere

On 15 April 2017, Kouzelný cirkus (The Wonderful Circus) celebrated 40 years from its premiere in 1977. The anniversary will be commemorated by a gala performance on 21 April, attended by many dancers and contemporaries. The story about a journey of two clowns, which was created by such personalities as Evald Schorm, Jiří Srnec and Jan Švankmajer, has been applauded world-wide and in Prague you can still see it at the New Stage of the National Theatre.

The Wonderful Circus was premiered at the then residence of Laterna Magika, the Adria Palace. Since 1983 it has been performed at the newly opened New Stage where it has settled until these days. There have been 6390 re-runs, 550 of which were performed during international tours to 17 countries and more than 50 cities (Germany, Slovakia, Netherlands, USA, Belgium, Soviet Union, Italy, Canada, France, Belgium, Austria, Israel, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Denmark, Greece). If the Wonderful Circus was played every day, the program would be full continually for 16 years. Until now, the piece has starred 25 Sad Clowns, 22 Cheerful Clowns, 25 Seducers and 30 Venuses.
The story about a never-ending quest and desire for beauty is built around the journey of two clowns, who want to find the beautiful Venus and along the way they have to overcome the traps of the Seducer – their creator and dominator. The creative team working on the presentation was headed by Karel Vrtiška and it included five choreographers. It involved Evald Schorm as the director, Josef Svoboda as the author of sets, in collaboration with Jiří Srnec (founder of the Black Light Theatre) and Jan Švankmajer, who created the puppet scenes. The author of the music dramaturgy and original music score was Oldřich F. Korte, the costumes and staging were the brainchild of the visual artist Zdenek Seydl.
In 2011, Jiří Srnec recalled the creation of The Wonderful Circus: “The people who got together in 1976 were all exceptional. Evald Schorm addressed them personally and suggested collaboration, and he chose professionals from all disciplines into his team. The first meeting provided just a few words about the theme - two clowns and their love for Venus. Those who really believed in and were excited by the project attended the next session. From the very beginning, there was the emerging miracle of mutual understanding. It was good to be a part of it. The space was opened for something new, never-heard-of before. Stage rehearsals followed right after – artistic virtuosity, ballet, but also clownery and soulful dance of the rose.”
The creation of the piece was difficult in its time’s conditions, especially the production and coordination. Several casts were rehearsing at the same time, Josef Svoboda’s scenography required a specific type of film that had to be shot on three cameras parallelly. It took 53 000 metres of film material.

The difficulties with production are well-documented in Josef Svoboda’s report: “The cutting was only to be done on a three-screen cutting table that could possibly be provided by Krátký film (never lending such a possession in principle, though) or Artcentrum (which had borrowed it from abroad). Our film was cut in Artcentrum, half-legally at nights and at weekends, which retarded the work considerably. More than a hundred boxes with material had to be transported all the time, not to be left there. (…) In addition, Laterna Magika disposes of one micro-bus. The driver works from 7am to 3:45pm and refuses to carry any, though appropriate, load, arguing that he is just a car driver.”

Source: Laterna magika


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