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60 years of Laterna magika - the Anniversary is approaching


Laterna magika

In April, we start to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Laterna magika, first multimedia theatre in the world. It all started at the World Trade Expo 58 in 1958 in Brussels. For Saturday 28, we have prepared a gala evening, within which we will pay homage to the artists and other figures who have spread the company’s renown. We will not only look back upon the past – Laterna magika will show you its contemporary face too. To commemorate the momentous anniversary, we will revive the legendary Laterna magika production of Bohuslav Martinů’s The Opening of the Wells, created by the stage director Alfréd Radok and the dancer and choreographer Zora Šemberová. Following the Czechoslovak authorities’ ban on the premiere in 1960, the production would only be allowed to be performed six years later. In Laterna magika’s modern history, is has only been presented twice, in 2003 and 2013. A truly scenic spectacle, the production of The Opening of the Wells also paraphrases the fate of Laterna magika. As its counterpart, the gala evening will include Cube – a show created in 2016 by Laterna magika dancers, who have approached the original multimedia theatre principles in contemporary motion and visual garb.

If you did not manage to grab your ticket for the show, just visit some of our other performance. On Monday, we play Wonderful Circus, which has been on repertory from 1977 until now without interruption. Certainly our most famous performance, traditional Laterna magika with film and a lot of dancing and mime.

On Monday 30, we play Cube, modern dance performance that includes many visual tricks and video mapping that serves our fantasy. You can join us after the show to discuss what you have seen with the creators – the director of the performance, the choreographers or the composer. The discussion will be translated.

Coming to the show, use stairs instead of the elevator in our theatre, and take a look at our new video art exhibition in the middle of staircase. Video artist František Pecháček has prepared a special installation celebrating the history of Laterna magika. Open from 28. 4. 18:30.


Laterna magika, the world’s first multimedia theatre, is celebrating 60 years of its existence. Having made its debut at the Expo 58 in Brussels, it is one of the symbols of the poetics and ingenuity of Czech theatre-makers. The National Theatre, of which Laterna magika is a part, will celebrate its round anniversary at the end of April. In addition to an extraordinary gala evening, the audiences can look forward to a number of accompanying programmes that will take place from 28 to 30 April at the New Stage of the National Theatre. 

Laterna magika’s top five:

  • * 39 premiere projects
  • * 107 foreign tours
  • * Performances at international exhibitions: Expo 58 in Brussels, Expo 67 in Montreal, Expo 70 in Osaka
  • * Visits to the distant corners of the world: Japan, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Canada, the USA …
  • * Wonderful Circus, the most frequently staged production in Central Europe: 6,400 performances in 17 countries


To mark the momentous anniversary, Laterna magika has planned a plethora of events and activities throughout 2018. We have in store accompanying programmes for the much-favoured productions, including meetings with renowned and young artists alike, events that will be held at traditional and non-traditional spaces.

The gala evening on 28 April will include a revival of the legendary Laterna magika production of Bohuslav Martinů’s The Opening of the Wells, created by the stage director Alfréd Radok and the dancer and choreographer Zora Šemberová. A video installation inspired by the Laterna magika phenomenon will be set in the building of the New Stage of the National Theatre. In May, the public will be able to watch another video installation on Václav Havel Square, giving an account of Laterna magika within the context of modern theatre. The anniversary year will be rounded off by the premiere of a new production, titled The Garden.

A brief history of Laterna magika

Expo 58 opened in Brussels in May 1958, yet Czechoslovakia’s participation had been planned several years in advance. The stage director Alfréd Radok and the set designer Josef Svoboda, who would soon gain global renown, undertook the task of to creating a novel presentation of Czechoslovak culture at the World’s Fair – and the fruit of their endeavour was a programme titled Laterna magika. They conceived a new form of synthetic theatre, resulting from a unique combination of film projections, live performance and stage technology. The programme, whose original purpose was promotion, gave rise to a poetic spectacle that turned into a global hit.

The Czechoslovak pavilion in Brussels was elected the best and duly awarded the exposition’s Gold Star. During and after the Expo 58, Laterna magika was invited to perform in the USSR, Syria, Egypt, the USA, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Spain and Israel, while other countries were interested in being granted licences. On 9 May 1959, Laterna magika launched its operation in Prague as an experimental company of the National Theatre.

For a considerable period of time, Laterna magika’s shows were in the form of revue. Later on, the Brussels programme, extended to include new acts, was replaced by Variations or Variations 66, evenings made up of numbers, some of which would be performed for ten years or so. A male dancer, whose female partner appears on a screen, from which her image jumps over onto a circle he holds in his hand, and back; a musician, who gives a concert with another five filmed musicians, each of whom is again none other than himself. Such numbers, intriguing owing to their technical implementation and engrossing due to their poetic nature, have deeply impressed the audiences.

In 1963, Laterna magika was for the first time subject to political interference. The reason was a production of Bohuslav Martinů’s The Opening of the Wells, created by the stage director Alfréd Radok and the dancer and choreographer Zora Šemberová (the first to portray Juliet in Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet, in 1938). Following a rehearsal, attended by the Minister of Culture, the production of The Opening of the Wells was banned, and would only be allowed to be performed in 1966.