Why should you go?
Founded in 2002 by Steve Gove, a Scot living in the Czech capital, the Prague Fringe has quickly become one of the city’s springtime highlights. Visitors will find an eclectic choice of productions – including theatre, comedy, dance, music and spoken word – at venues dotted throughout Prague’s pretty Malá Strana district. And the wealth of talent on display is simply extraordinary, from established, big-name shows warming up for the Edinburgh Fringe to up-and-coming acts looking to shake up the status quo.
Show times run from late afternoon until late evening, with each one lasting an hour on average. That means visitors are able to fit a single performance into an already-busy evening, or set the whole night aside to take in a few shows and enjoy the infectious carnival atmosphere that takes over Malá Strana.
For founder Steve Gove, nothing beats a trip to the city during the festival. “May’s a great time of year to visit, with wonderful spring weather,” he says. “And coming to Prague during the Fringe means you see another side of things. You’ll visit places you usually wouldn’t, you’ll eat and drink in places you’d never have found, and you’ll connect with people in a way that isn’t possible when just sightseeing.”
Fringe Sunday © Prague Fringe Festival
Why haven’t I heard of this before?
It’s fair to say that when it began in 2002, the Prague Fringe was a niche event. As Steve Gove says, “It was super edgy in the first couple of years; really grassroots, with us all mucking in and doing all jobs.” But over the last 17 years, it has grown into a major European arts festival, part of a global collective of fringe festivals and a popular port of call for acts heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. In 2018, Prague Fringe will play host to more than 240 performances, with a total audience in excess of 6000 people. So, while it may not be as well-known as its Edinburgh counterpart among the general population, budding performers and festival-goers around the world know all about the Prague Fringe.
What should I see in 2018?
The festival, which will take place between 25th May and 2nd June this year, is set to be the biggest yet. There are a number of hot-ticket shows lined up, including Games, the true story of a young Jewish fencer competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, written by the renowned playwright Henry Naylor, and Clown Work in Progress, a brand new show from the award-winning silent comic Trygve Wakenshaw.
There are also exciting new acts to enjoy at this year’s festival. Female comedy duo Birds, following success at the UK’s prestigious Leicester Square Theatre Sketch Off competition, will perform their brand of rapid-fire, razor-sharp comedy sketches in their self-titled debut. Three-man physical theatre group The Latebloomers will showcase their high-energy, Lecoq-trained clowning in SCOTLAND! And newcomer Nina Roy will explore sexual awakenings, trauma and fertility in Evolution of a Sexual Bean.
Birds © Prague Fringe Festival
Where does it take place?
The Prague Fringe takes place entirely within Malá Strana, one of the city’s most historic districts. This means venues are within easy walking distance of one another, allowing audiences to take in multiple shows each evening. There are nine different theatres and performance spaces in all, varying from the professional black box theatre Divadlo Kampa to the intimate basement of boutique hotel Golden Key.