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New Laterna magika artistic director Radim Vizváry presents his conception


Laterna magika
In January 2021 the post of artistic director of Laterna magika was assumed by Radim Vizváry, an internationally esteemed nonverbal theatre exponent, holder of the coveted Thalia Prize and numerous other accolades. Here, in a nutshell, is his vision:

Remarkable, ground-breaking, innovative, experimental, progressive, imaginative. Such were the adjectives used to describe the stage form that 62 years ago was conceived for Expo 58 in Brussels. Owing to these basic parameters, Laterna magika did not remain a one-off exposition attraction, but went on to become an original and independent genre of Czech and, by extension, global theatre. Ever since the beginning, Laterna magika has been a multimedia and multi-genre company, and the legacy of its founders, Alfréd Radok and Josef Svoboda, should inspire and stimulate contemporary creators, who, just like their predecessors, should bring on to the stage that which has not previously been seen. Artists working for Laterna magika should be afforded the opportunity to make use of state-of-the-art technologies, and closely collaborate with scientists and inventors.

Laterna magika as multi-genre theatre

By its very nature, Laterna magika is obliged to blend the artistic styles, trends and domains that to date have merely served for or been ancillary parts of the historically rooted traditional genres: contemporary dance, physical theatre, mime, acrobatics, new circus, work with puppets, masks, etc., which also equally applies to cutting-edge stage technologies. Scope has been provided to set and lighting designers, audio-visual artists, video and digital artists, and others. Laterna magika should be a creative laboratory of theatre innovators.

Laterna magika as an open space

Ever since the inauguration of the National Theatre’s New Stage, Laterna magika has been closely linked with this venue, yet it can make use of its potential to a larger degree, also doing so in collaboration with other companies. Audiences’ experience of Laterna magika performances should not begin after they have taken their seats in the auditorium, it should be absorbed from the building itself. Laterna magika should be immersive. At the same time, it must expand beyond the National Theatre spaces in the form of site-specific projects.

Technologies and digital art

Contemporary theatre employs multimedia technologies, which in general primarily originate for another purpose. Only rarely are novel technologies tailor-made for specific theatre productions or companies. In this respect, Laterna magika should be exceptional in giving impulses for invention. The company should make use of such existing technologies that seldom appear on stages. We should explore and apply new materials and new techniques, while focusing on interactive technologies or work with extended reality.

International co-operation and Laterna festival

Laterna magika still possesses the potential of being a global trademark, although it has cut down on touring. Absolutely essential is international collaboration, exchange of experience and establishing of new contacts. Specialists and foreign professionals should join our creative teams, with the new repertoire also encompassing appearances at international festivals and making tours abroad.

Serving as an impulse could be our participation in Expo 2020 and launching of an international festival in Prague (the working title: Laterna Fest), co-operation with foreign academies and theatres (e.g. TeAK in Helsinki, Synetic Theater in Washington D.C.), etc. We could also get involved in international collaboration through grant programmes and funds, such as the International Visegrad Fund, the Norwegian Funds, the Czech-German Fund for the Future, and others. Our plan is to launch the festival in 2022 and hold it every two years, with the programme centred on professional artists and a wide range of stage forms akin to the Laterna magika style.

Laterna magika’s programme conception

Following the New Stage’s planned refurbishment, Laterna magika will premiere two new productions every year, one title on a large and one on a small stage. One of the productions should be intended for the whole family. Laterna magika will continue to focus on site-specific interventions in non-theatre spaces, initiate the creation of installations, pursue outdoor activities, and enrich its programme with the aforementioned biennial festival.

Greater emphasis will be placed on creating pieces for children. Laterna magika will do its utmost to retain the attention of international audiences. Its shows must be sought-after artistic experiences. Our aim is to convince theatre-goers that attending the company’s performances is a matter of prestige. Domestic audiences too should be enthusiastic about Laterna magika productions. We should treat subjects that will speak to them, pertaining to their lives, with the performances helping them to grasp the intricacies of the contemporary world.

We will pay special attention to Laterna magika’s Wonderful Circus, a legendary production whose exclusiveness and significance should be duly stressed. By staging it less frequently, on anniversaries or holidays, the performances will become extraordinary events.

Short-term plans

This season, Laterna magika will premiere the production The Miracle of Creation for the whole family and conceive an online site-specific project that will engage as many members of the company as possible. In the next season, in September 2021, we will give the Czech premiere of Robot Radius, as a co-production with EXPO 2020, whose world premiere is scheduled to take place in October in Dubai. In April 2022, we will present a new feature-length production, to be followed in June by the pilot edition of the Laterna Fest.