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Theatre, dance, the climate crisis, human beings and nature… What is troubling our society? The 7th edition of Bazaar Festival of Dance and Theatre begins!

The seventh anniversary of Bazaar Festival of Dance and Theatre will begin in just a few days. As has become tradition, viewers can look forward to works by artists from central and eastern Europe, but this year will be a bit different. Prominent European scientists focusing on the climate and biodiversity crises and the state of our landscape will step into the art world for a series of discussions.

The Bazaar Festival thus becomes not only a cultural event, but one that connects the worlds of science and culture in an innovative and provocative way and issues a call to action to the viewer. The theme of this year’s festival, which takes place in Prague from the 27th to 30th of August is We the Landscape (?). 

What led Ewan McLaren, the festival’s artistic director and dramaturg, to choose this theme? “We have found that there are Central European artists who want to understand certain scientific paradoxes and share them with the audience through examples from their surroundings. They are addressing surface lignite mining in Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland, or the state of water and forests, the loss of biodiversity, or the necessity to scale back human action. From my point of view, this work is an important strand of a  cultural shift. It’s worth inviting artists like these for an encounter with Czech audiences. And not just the artists – this year we’ve invited stellar Central European scientists to the festival!” We can thus expect an interesting and rewarding meeting between three groups: artists, spectators and scientists. Climate change issues have been present for many years, and not only in Europe, but how do societies approach these questions? Is something changing? Are we still interested in what is happening to our landscape and concerned about its – and our – future? The invited artists are asking these questions in their work. Bazaar Festival will not only introduce and present them, but also offer a provocative call to action. 

While the state of the pandemic in our country allows the festival to take place, there has been a last-minute change to the program. The St. Petersburg ensemble AKHE will be unable to participate due to the pandemic situation in Russia. “We are extremely sad that we cannot present this legendary ensemble and start the festival according to the original program. Despite these complications, the audience can look forward to a full-fledged replacement in the form of creative Czech ensemble Wariot Ideal and their equally provocative production The Depths (Hlubiny),” says Ewan McLaren.

This year’s festival connects the artistic sphere with the world of science. Their point of intersection and shared interest is the landscape, or the natural world that surrounds us, and the climate crisis is at the centre of their joint exploration and reflection. Wariot Ideal transports the viewer to the roots of our relationship with the natural world. In her dance trio, You are Safe, Agata Siniarska finds herself on a lonely island in the middle of an ocean flooded with plastic. The effort to save the planet is proving more difficult than it originally seemed. POCKetART exhorts spectators to “Imagine you’re breathing,” and asks, “Do you remember how it felt to be able to breathe together? When could we bury our feet in the grass? When drops of rain fell on us?” Jana Tereková and bees-R confront the human sense of dominion over nature. Isn’t this outlook too arrogant?

These are just some of the questions and themes the artists open in their works, confronting themselves, the audience and society at large. The leading European scientists joining us at this year’s Bazaar are grappling with similar questions, along with many others centred around our landscape, biodiversity, the environment and the climate crisis. On 26th September, the day before the festival opens, German entomologist Dr. Matthias Nuss will lead a unique and practical workshop. Participants will head to Prague’s Stromovka park to study and observe the state of insect biodiversity in this natural environment during daytime and evening hours.  Hungarian environmental physicist and climatologist, Hungarian environmental physicist and climatologist, Professor Diána Ürge-Vorsatz is another European scientific star who will visit the festival to take part in a two-day workshop and “The Nature of Us Opening Lab” discussion.  Climate change mitigation is one of the key areas of her research. 

Dr. Alice Koubová from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic will not only moderate the discussion, but is also the coordinator of the research program “Resilient Society for the 21st Century,” which aims to research and gauge social resilience in relation to crises facing 21st-century Czech society.

The 7th Bazaar Festival has thus become not only a cultural and artistic encounter, but an event that travels across disciplines to connect art and science and call society to reflect and take action. Visit the Bazaar Festival of Dance and Theatre in Prague from 27th-30th August. Tickets may be purchased via GoOut.

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