Artistic and executive director: Ondřej Hrab. Director of AKCENT festival and Archa.lab: Jana Svobodová.
Archa Theatre belongs to a unique cultural scene in the Czech Republic where artists and companies from around the world can meet and actively cooperate. Presenting a wide range of contemporary dance, theatre, music, film and multimedia performance, Archa Theatre also strives to present its own projects showcasing diverse innovative ideas and progressive theatrical forms on an international scale. It’s perfectly equipped and highly versatile halls have hosted DV8, Ultima Vez, Royal Shakespeare Company, the shows of Robert Wilson and Peter Brook and many others.
Archa Theatre serves 200 performances per year to an audience of approximately 40 000 visitors, and its staff consists of 13 fulltime employees as well as dozens of part-time external collaborators and artists.
The joint performance of Min Tanaka and John Cale, which officially opened the Archa Theatre in 1994, gave hints to where the theatre's future dramaturgy was headed. The encounter between a Japanese dancer and an American musician symbolized the connection between two cultures, two genres and two continents. The theatre strives to examine art’s possibilities and to provide a space for innovative ideas.
The Archa Theatre has introduced many leading artistic personalities from around the world to Czech audience, including director Robert Wilson, choreographers Wim Vandekeybus, Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker and Jan Fabre, musicians David Byrne, Randy Newman, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Einstürzende Neubauten, Tindersticks, Diamanda Galás, Imogen Heap, Morrissey, Levellers and many others. Ensembles such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Cheek By Jowl, Ultima Vez, Rosas, DV8, Handspring Puppet Company and Dogtroep have also performed here. The American poet Allen Ginsberg gave one of his last performances at Archa Theatre.
With its unique dramaturgy, innovative projects that cross the boundaries of artistic genres and cutting-edge technical capabilities, Archa has established a firm reputation on the domestic and international progressive scenes. It operates as a production house that provides space for artists to do creative work. This enables the theatre to create its own projects as well as host ensembles and artists both from the Czech Republic and abroad.
At least one original project is created at Archa every year and then presented in a series of performances. In this way, artists such as Peter Schumann, Min Tanaka, The Residents and Tiger Lillies among many others have created original works under the production of the Archa Theatre. Homegrown projects by young artists are conceived and developed under the auspices of the Archa.Lab. Recent projects include the visual-musical performance "Dance Through the Fence", which addresses the issue of refugees in the Czech Republic, as well as the acclaimed world premiere of the play “Leaving” by former Czech president Václav Havel directed by David Radok.
In April 2010, Archa‘s production of “Leaving” was performed as part of the spring season at the LG Arts Center in Seoul, South Korea. Other recent projects include the tragic operetta “Exit 89” (2008), “Window of Opportunity” (2009), a multimedia performance about the revolutionary year of 1989, the contemporary dance production “Emigrantes” (2010) by the VerTeDance Company, and a burlesque cabaret-like show with The Tiger Lillies – “Here I am Human” (2010) directed by Jiří Havelka.
Archa Theatre began a community art program with asylum seekers in the Czech Republic 7 years ago. Jana Svobodová led a group of actors, musicians and art teachers in a series of workshops at refugee camps that resulted in the 3 shows: “Quest for a Dream”, “Strange Neighbor”, and “At 11:20 I will be Leaving You” (documented in the film “A Beautiful Life I Will Have” by the renowned filmmaker Pavel Koutecký). These shows were performed in the camps and in untraditional public spaces and as a result of this work, several strong relationships were developed with asylum seekers who later continued to work on the projects. The shows included refugees from Burma, Georgia, Syria, China and Chechnya.
In 2008, Archa Theatre produced the show “Dance Through the Fence” involving Armenian accordionist and hair dresser Gugar Manukjan, Kurdish lute player and hair dresser Miran Kassim, Chinese performer and translator Jing Lu, Ginkhan Khuppi from Burma, Marina Ekazeva from Chechnya; and the writer Hana Androniková, director Jana Svobodová, actors from Archa Theatre and musical director Michael Romanyshyn. As a result of the creative process the Allstar Refjúdží Band was formed as a theatre-musical project of Archa Theatre that continue to perform to this day.
ALLSTAR REFJÚDŽÍ BAND - Ethno brass or alternative jam band.
A multicultural union of artists and musicians from China, Kurdistan, Armenia, Slovakia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the USA. The band energetically mixes brass, ska, rap, klezmer, Dixieland, Chinese opera, and Armenian/Kurdish melodies in one pot.
The Allstar Refjúdží Band emerged as part of the Archa Theatre’s "Dance Through the Fence" event, in which refugees and foreigners living in the Czech Republic perform together with professional artists. The director of the show, Jana Svobodová, invited American musician Michael Romanyshyn to form a band for the show and compose music that would reflect the variety of musical culture. “Dance Through the Fence” premiered in March 2008 at the Archa Theatre. Soon after the premiere, the Allstar Refjúdží Band received numerous requests for solo performances and has now played several successful concerts at music festivals. Its repertoire has expanded by a number of new compositions.
How ASRB works - Michael Romanyshyn created a completely unique method for the Allstar Refjúdží Band where musical motifs from Kurdish, Armenian and Chinese songs form the basis of the new compositions. The songs are created out of collective improvisation and are not written down. It is born out of mutual listening. The compositions are combined with original lyrics and older lyrics are given new arrangements. The band’s hit is a cover version of the Czech national anthem sung in Chinese, Kurdish and Swiss versions. The question “Where is my home?” thus gets a new meaning.
Since its creation in 2008 the Allstar Refjúdží Band has performed at important music and theatre festivals such as Colours of Ostrava, Eurotrialog Mikulov, Bažant Pohoda, the Boskovice Festival, the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival, United Islands, the Nitra International Theatre Festival 2011, the Plzeň International Theatre Festival 2010, and others. Abroad, the band has performed in Warsaw, Berlin, Rotterdam, The Hague, Haarlem and Utrecht. They also often play in Slovakia.
Workshops - The Allstar Refjúdží Band has organized a series of musical workshops called “No voice! - No problem!” led by members of the band – Michael Romanyshyn, Gugar Manukjan, Abdulrahman Kasem and Jing Lu – the workshop participants create rhythmic and melodic structures which later are used in public performances with the Allstar Refjúdží Band. For more information about concerts and musical workshops go to www.asrb.cz or www.archatheatre.cz
Touring of Archa Theatre productions - many of Archa’s projects have been met with international acclaim and have been presented at festivals in Bonn, Johannesburg, London, Kyoto, Tokyo, Belgrade, Brussels, and Berlin, Seoul, New York and other cities.
Akcent – the brand new International Festival of Theatre with Social Outreach which will take place on November 15th to 20th, 2011.
The Akcent Festival was born from the urgent need to create an artistic platform that breaks the barriers between artistic creation, social problems and politics. The Festival aims to present art as a part of socially beneficial or socially critical activities and to provide space for art forms like documentary theatre, community art, social intervention, art in public spaces, or art that focuses on specific social themes. The Akcent Festival wants to give a new perspective on the function of art in the social context.
Festival program: theatre - concerts - site specific projects - presentations - documentary films – workshops. See more: www.akcentfestival.eu
Archa.lab - is a project by the Archa Theatre that focuses on experimentation and research in the area of stage art. Its program follows the dramaturgical direction of the Archa Theatre as expressed in its thematic mission, which in the 2011-2012 season is defined by the motto: We want to know your story!
Archa.lab works with:
- managing theatre and dance ateliers for children and adults;
- expanding its offer of intensive workshops led by guest artists from Czech Republic and abroad;
- looking for young artists for its Archa.lab residence program.
- … is a centre for contemporary performing arts, regardless to genre.
- … acts as a production house, where contemporary performing art is created and presented.
- …does not have a stable ensemble; its own productions are created as projects.
- …is a place for international confrontation of performing arts.
- …is a place where different cultures meet.
- …presents its performances not only in its own venue, but also in public spaces.
- …places equal emphasis on the theatrical and social functions of the theatre.
- …creates projects both independently and in collaboration with like-minded organizations in Czech Republic and abroad.
- …serves a public which is critical and discerning.
- ….is a public forum.
Archa Theatre is a member of IETM.
International programme of the theatre:
Since its opening, the theatre every year has presented artists, performers, musicians, theatre and dance companies from all over the world. At least 40 % of Archa´s programme includes international elements.
- 68/89 – Vom Frühling der Utopien bis zum Fall der Mauer (68/89 – Kunst.Zeit.Geschichte.) - The International project 68/89 – Art.Era.History. This project involved partners from Germany, Slovakia and Czech Republic and focused on the cultural and social movements of the end of the 1960’s. The project also looked at development after 1968, the role of the “68ers” during the fall of communism in 1989 and the significance of these historical events.
- BORDERless (SK, DE, AT, CZ) - a project that includes exchange of ideas and experience, and stimulates the development of methods and formation of projects connecting artistic creation with social development, as well as working with various communities – in order to break borders in the society:ethnic, cultural, ideological, geo-political spheres.
- Akcent – International Festival of Theatre with Social Outreach - pilot edition in 2010 (CZ, NL, SK, DE)
The pilot edition of Akcent gave new perspectives on the function of art in a social context. It featured workshops, discussions, presentations and lectures by various international artists who engage themselves in social and community art. The Akcent Festival was founded in 2010 on a social initiative by Prague’s Archa Theatre and the Theatre from the Passage in Bánská Bystrica. The Slovak part of the festival took place between September 30th to October 2nd and the Prague part between October 4th - 7th, 2010.
Publications: Book 15 years of Archa Theatre, CD of Allstar Refjúdží Band: Spas! bi-monthly program newspaper etc.