Prague Black Light Theater
Possibly the Czechs’ craziest inventions, Black Light Theater is a wild mix of illusion, light, music, dance and acrobatics that confuses, enchants, creates glowing, dreamlike scenes and take neither itself nor the audience overly seriously. See a show at the Black Light Theater of Prague. For better or for worse this experience will be stuck in your head for a while.
The Theater of the Absurd
When: Most Nights at 20:30
Where: Rytířská 31, Praha 1 (Old Town) – Right between Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, five minutes by foot from either place. Just opposite the Estates Theater (Stavovké Divadlo)
What Is Black Light Theater?
At its center is an illusion, specifically the black cabinet, an illusion technique thought up by the court jesters of the emperor of ancient China. The groundbreaking discovery behind the black cabinet trick is that people can’t see black things in front of black background.
Avantgarde directors like Méliès and Stanislawski used it to make objects disappear and Bunraku, a traditional Japanese puppet theater form employs the trick to make the puppeteers harder to see. David Copperfield uses it too.
Czech Black Light Theater goes far beyond that. Its godfather Jiří Srnec discovered the true potential of what the trick can be used for and built an entire genre around it: a mix of UV-lights and UV-reflecting objects and costumes on the one side and black velvet curtains and black-velveted actors/acrobats, of glowing and invisible actors and objects, make the seemingly impossible possible.
In the 1950s and started the World’s first Black Light Theater. It was the sensation of Edinburgh’s 1962 theater festival (“it put the magic back on the stage” according to a newspaper headline the next day). He and his ensemble would do hundreds of tours between 1959 and 1989, covering much of Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Just before the Velvet Revolution and the end of Communism they settled down in Prague and opened their theater – the beginning of a wave.
What is it really
It is insane. Srnec created a bizarre, dreamlike world of his own: Neon colors, living inanimate objects, expressive dance, music, acrobatics, audience interaction and a tinge of elusive mystery but no spoken words.
Srnec and his company managed to spend most of Communism outside of Czechoslovakia traveling the world – by doing something completely bizarre but internationally celebrated. Srnec was since awarded the Medal of Merit, the Czech Republic’s highest honor. Born in 1931 he continues to work as a director, set designer, playwright-composer, and manager of his world-famous theater.
What you will do
See an original performance of the famous Black Light Theater of Prague.
What to expect
Black Light Theater is it’s very own kind of thing: A very strange, colorful show combining dance, music, lights, acrobatics, theater, and illusion. The shows are designed to confuse and entertain and don’t take themselves overly seriously.