The international Bazaar Festival features progressive performance works by dance and theatre innovators that keep a healthy distance from official culture and are not afraid to take risks. Bazaar Festival programming is focussed on makers from the independent scenes of Central and Eastern Europe and since 2019, the Middle East.
The festival is a response both to the gradual development of large, dynamic and curious audiences looking for up-to-date innovative forms of performance creation and open dialogue about the future of our cities and communities, and also to the current political situation in our countries, which to varying degrees has been putting its artists under increasing pressure.
The festival takes its cue from Prague and the Czech Republic’s developing long-term role in advocating freedom of expression of not just Czech artists, but also those from neighbouring post-communist countries. Adding artists from the Middle East helps challenge Central Europeans’ fears of this region, which has even more recent experience with the terrible phenomena of poverty, migration, dictatorship and war.
It is a goal of the festival program to bring in creative personalities who do not behave in an autocratic fashion towards their teams, who work collectively and give colleagues room to express themselves, while maintaining high artistic quality and creative boldness. Thus the Bazaar has presented works like One Gesture (Wojtek Ziemilski/ Wojtek Pustoła/ Nowy Teatr, PL) with deaf performers searching for a common language, Grace (Hodworks, HU) in which dancers react together to conservatism with the courageous breaking of rules or Damned be the Traitor of His Homeland (Oliver Frljić and Mladinsko Theatre, SL), mapping the collapse of Yugoslavia and the hatreds that accompanied it.
Another basic pillar of the Bazaar Festival is an ongoing search for new ways to acquaint audiences with artistic process. The Bazaar is also an important “development catalyst” for works still in the process of being created. Since its initial edition the Bazaar offers devised performance creators a platform for a key development stage of their new works by giving artists short residencies and the chance to show excerpts from future works. The festival also frequently invites back artists whose work was seen in development during past festival editions, and so audiences get to see not only work in development, but the resulting performance.
The Bazaar Festival has been on the Prague scene since 2015 and takes place annually in March in independent venues such as Studio ALTA, Alfred ve dvoře, Archa Theatre, Ponec and others.
Ewan McLaren - artistic director
There is a growing interest among Central and Eastern European creators in addressing the theme of “caring for …” How could it be otherwise, when at the very moment when we were realizing how to take better care of our environment and ourselves, an aggressive war was declared against sovereign Ukraine and we are still feeling the need to take care of the people affected by the conflict, but also to take care of our security, our future?
In denial of the dark side of the animus that is rising in Russia (but also in us), we retreat to our little communities, families, gardens and cottages, nurturing, scolding, weeding, cultivating… Who has enough distance from these ironies, enough wry humour, enough poetic edginess to gently set a mirror to us?
Independent artists, I think.
In Lighter than Woman, Kristina Norman explores the responsibility women take on when caring for others or themselves. In her solo, Eva Urbanová celebrates the freedom and focus that come with finding one’s own voice, while Tel Aviv-based Roni Chadash asks in her own enigmatic piece, is my body subject to someone’s manipulative gaze? And the brilliant self-ironic Estonian trio Ulfsak, Kangro, and Epner (ex-legendary Theatre NO99) distills that part of the male identity that insists: Let us explain it all, us guys have ways of taking care of EVERYTHING!
Here then is a whole spectrum of what it means to “take care of…”.
And there are definitely situations where we have to take care of our health, our safety, to guard the boundaries we have set. Here’s hoping we can also preserve the option of leaving some things alone, listening and observing more to the world around us.
GRAND OPENING: SERGIU MATIS (RO/DE): EXTINCTION ROOM (HOPELESS.)
PONEC, the dance venue
SATURDAY BAZAAR excerpts from theatre and dance works
Alfred ve dvoře
ZSUZSA RÓZSAVÖLGYI (HU): OLD POND
PONEC, the dance venue