Credit: Theatre World Brno

Brno’s Theatre World Festival: The English-Friendly Highlights

The rich program of Brno’s Theatre World festival (‘Divadelni Svet’), which started last Friday, 17 May, is continuing this week, until next Tuesday, 28 May.

Brno National Theatre (NdB), Husa na provázku Theatre, Brno Municipal Theatre, Radost Theatre, Polárka Theatre, Studio Marta, Theater na Orlí and JAMU are all cooperating for the success of the 12-day festival.

The festival, in its 15th edition this year, is one of the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the Czech Republic, and alongside the national scene, showcases a wide variety of international productions, from Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia, and the UK.

“The entire dramaturgical board and I perceive networking and connecting the festival with prestigious foreign actors of the international art scene as another step towards its development and future direction,” remarked Martin Glaser, director of the festival and NdB. “In this way, we want to offer viewers projects that can normally only be seen at festivals in Western Europe or perhaps in Asia.”

“In the selection of individual productions, we pay special attention to the diversity of the offer for the audience, which will be a representative sample of the most outstanding foreign theatre and the best of Czech theatre production. We are still trying to get both adults and children of various ages to choose their performances at the festival,” added Barbara Gregorová, chief dramaturg of the festival.

Given its international reach, the festival is one of the most important cultural events for the expat community of Brno, with a large share of the shows either subtitled or performed in English.

Employees. Credit: Natalia Kabanow

Among these, a highlight is “Employees” by Warsaw Teatr Studio and Polish director Łukasz Twarkowski, which has been collecting positive audience responses at major foreign festivals. 

The production, based on the 2020 sci-fi dystopian novel of the same name by Danish author Olga Ravn, reflects upon the future of humanity and its relationship to robotics and AI. It will be performed exceptionally in Pavilion G2 of the Brno Exhibition Center, rather than the city centre theatres, on 27 and 28 May.

The Slovak National Theater will perform the family drama “Children” at Mahen Theater on 24 and 25 May, featuring important names of the Slovak art scene such as Emília Vášáryová, Kamila Magálová and Emil Horváth. 

Another foreign production is the project “Beautiful Bad Things” by the British group Ad Infinitum, which excelled with this performance at the renowned theatre festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. The piece, performed fully in English at the Husa na provázku Theatre on 24 and 25 May, will offer an unusual view of ancient myths and the Trojan War through the eyes of Medusa, in a one-woman show. 

From the domestic Czech theatre, some of these shows will also be subtitled in English, to be made available to the international community in Brno.

An example is “Cries and Whispers”, an adaptation of the well-known psychological drama by Ingmar Bergman, which will be performed by Jihlava’s Horácké Theatre at the Brno City Theatre on 25 May.

Jeeps. Credit: Theatre World Brno

Another is “Jeeps”, by the independent Prague company Letí Theatre, a tragicomedy about inheritance and social equality, based on an award-winning 2022 German text.

For many years, the Theatre World festival has also included a category in its program dedicated to dance and movement productions that differ from the genre of classical ballet. 

“I am very happy with this year’s selection of dance and movement productions at the Theatre World Brno festival,” commented Karel Littera, dramaturg of the NdB Ballet. “We will offer both intimate dance productions, where the audience will be literally at the performers’ fingertips, and large, stunning movement and circus performances with a large ensemble on stage.”

“TRIO. For the beauty of it” from the La Fleur group is one example, consisting of dancers and performers from all over the world, dedicated to various dance and music styles, with inspiration from Africa, Mexico or the New York voguing scene, among others. The show will take place at Husa na provázku Theatre on 23 May.

The popular group DEKKADANCERS will bring to this year’s festival a jazz swing production by the international team of choreographer and director Arthur Pita, based on the motifs of Tennessee Williams’ classic drama “A Streetcar Named Desire”,  at the Brno City Theatre on 23 May. 

New circus representatives Losers Cirque Company will bring their successful project “Audition” to the Brno City Theatre on 24 and 25 May. In this acrobatic audition show, the spectators will decide the winner themselves.

Two productions by the 420PEOPLE group will be performed at Studio Marta during the festival. The first one, on 25 May, entitled “Why things go wrong”, with Michal Heriban and Viktor Konvalinka in the lead roles, conveys to the audience a fascinating experience of what it is like when even a situation bathed in sunshine suddenly becomes a hot hell full of flames. 

42+PEOPLE: Where. Credit: Theatre World Brno

The second production, on 24 May, is a piece called “42+PEOPLE: Where”, featuring Helena Arenbergerová, who also won the Thalia Award 2023 for this role, and the artistic director of the 420PEOPLE group Václav Kuneš, offering the audience a very visceral inter-generational view of the peak of the dance career of artists over 42.

A large program for children will also form part of the festival.

“As part of this year’s festival, even the youngest and smallest spectators have the opportunity to be even closer to their heroes on stage,” said Jiří Hajdyla, artistic director of Polárka Theatre. “We have prepared several performances where children will be with actors or puppeteers right on stage, so they will be able to experience the story really intensively.”

The production “Hocus pocus” by the Swiss group Cie Philippe Saire, suitable for children from the age of seven, will be presented in the Polárka Theater on 26 May. Children and parents alike will be able to let their imaginations run wild and experience the adventure story of two brothers who appear and disappear on stage together with the props in the rhythm of alternating light and darkness. 

Puppet performance “Ostrov domov – The home island” by Slovak artist Katanari will have an English performance on 26 May at Polarka Theatre. Suitable for children from 10 years of age, the show is a compilation of tiny stories reviewing different aspects of journeys in life, depicted in short symbolic stories woven together around themes of leaving home voluntarily or involuntarily, searching for one’s place in the world, peace and acceptance.

It’s an Angel’s Gift! Credit: Theatre World Brno

Important Czech children’s theatre will also be present: Divadlo Drak from Hradec Králové will bring to the stage the fairy tale “It’s an Angel’s Gift!” on 22 May, about what happens when an angel falls to earth out of nowhere. This performance is suitable even for the smallest children from 4 years old at the Orlí Theatre, and though in Czech, it will include an English summary of what takes place on stage.

The same summary mode will feature in another show on 23 May, meant for a young adult public, ”#Burn #IAmHere #Herostratos”, from the group Naivní divadla Liberec, presenting a controversial ancient Greek story, the burning of Artemis temple in Ephesus by Herostratos, with the help of the most modern of communication tools: social networks.

The festival is also meant to be a showcase for emerging talents, and for some years has also featured a premiere section. Among other titles, those suitable for an English-speaking audience include “Oedipus Complete”, by the Tiger in Need group, which will be presented in the garden of Villa Löw-Beer on 22 and 23 May, featuring an English summary. The piece-trilogy includes the iconic Greek tragedy “King Oedipus”, supplemented by the drama “Láios” by contemporary author Hana Lehečková, and the dance libretto “Abyss” by Maria Nováková and Václav Kuneš.

“Droeshout’s Portrait: How Shakespeare is Born” created in collaboration with the French ensemble Les Antiaclastes, the JAMU Theater Faculty and the Czech Center in Paris, will also be premiered at Radost Theatre on 24 May, intended for a young adult audience. It is a non-verbal puppet show about what or who is behind the English “bard”.

Hamlet or The Soul Argued with the Body. Credit: Theatre World Brno

Shakespeare’s Hamlet will also be part of the festival in two forms: a more classic at Mahen Theatre on 23 May and a revisitation called “Hamlet or The Soul Argued with the Body” at Brno City Theatre on 22 May.

This year’s festival will also host the AICT/IACT International Critics Conference, from May 22 to 24 in the Mozart Hall of the Reduta Theatre, attended by over 120 critics from all over the world accompanied by an ever-widening range of performances with subtitles for English-speaking festival visitors. Part of these are the two Hamlet pieces, as well as “The Saga of the Marx family”, taking place on 22 May at Husa na provázku Theater, based on the unusual Spanish writer’s Juan Goytisolo piece on the ideological founder of communism.

Radost Theatre will instead present the spooky story “The Ratcatcher” on 22 May, directed by Patrick Sims, intended for children from 12 years old, an adventure story based on the book model “And Then It Happened!” by writer Ester Staré; Polárka Theatre has also prepared a piece called  “Grandma: There are no more good old ladies?”, inspired by the traditional novel “Babička” (‘The Grandmother’) by Božena Němcová, that will be performed on 23 May.

All the aforementioned events are either played in English or subtitled, when not specified. For the full program, see

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