Fighting against stereotypes, the spreading of the Spanish culture in Prague has recently been refreshed by drama actors and directors, disappointed with their jobs in their native country,who have opened a new window to know Spain
By Silvia Muñoz 7 January 2011
This is no ordinary Tuesday for the Spanish actor and stage designer, Eufrasio Lucena. He has started the new year 2011 with a premiere in Prague: The Three Wise Men's play. This is the first time the oldest dramatic text ever been written in Spanish (around 12th century), is performed in Czech Republic.
This is a Lucenas's hit as a member of Luces de Bohemia. The name of the most important book written by the Spanish Valle-Inclán, was chosen for creating a literarily group composed by lovers of Spanish and Hispanic literature in 2000. This cluster (supported by Spanish Embassy, Czech Government and Cervantes's Institute) arrange a monthly meeting and the members read Spanish books or play different dramatic texts.
Eufrasio Lucena, as one of the Luces de Bohemia's leaders, moved to Prague seven years ago to study at DAMU (Divadelní faculty Academia Múzických Umení). There, he has found a way to show the Spanish tradition:
“Our goal is to engage Czech public using a feedback. We translate Spanish books into Czech in a lot of our meetings and with this, Prague people can feel attracted to approach to us. I think we are a cultural bridge between the two countries. I actually think that we have many things in common. From my experience I can say, since the first day I arrived, I feel like home in Prague”.
In addition, Prague has changed his job's viewpoint:
“Here I have a feeling that my job is more appreciated than in Spain. I feel more comfortable directing Czech people because they are brave actors; they like risk. Here, the process of performing a play happens very fast, because the director has not to be worried about actors and actress”, explains Lucena.
On his return in Prague, he met Eufrasio Lucena at DAMU and, as a result of their friendship, Hudecek has been performed the role of one of the Wise Men.Spain it is seen here as an exotic country for us. Despite our differences, we love flamenco and the Islamic tradition of the South of Spain. We are so far way each other, but I think we envy Spain because of the weather”, says Hudecek.
People may think that it is impossible get success as a drama writer or director in a foreign country without knowing well the local language, but that is not the Carlos Be's story.
After several failed attempts in Barcelona, his hometown, he decided to have a try in Prague in 2006. He sent his own texts to the theatres and he received a positive answer of one of them. As easy as that.
Four years later, he has already directed his play Origami at Divadlo Ungelt with the help of a translator:
“Prague has a great drama's status and is always growing. Any play that is performed here is seen with good eyes. The great difference in drama's tradition between Spain and Czech Republic is the investment in culture. In Prague you have a lot of opportunities because here projects are seen like creation, but in Spain they are only numbers”.
HISTORICAL LINKS BETWEEN SPAIN AND CZCH REPUBLIC
Most of Czech people think about Spain as the country of the sun, the parties and the bulls, and they may not find any links between Prague and Spain, but there are lots of them if we go back on the centuries.
Pavel Stepanek, Art History professor at University Palace v Olomouc, is one of the most important researchers about Spanish History in Czech Republic and, as he explains,
For this reason, marriages between Spanish and Bohemia's monarchy started in 1521. Five years later, the Spanish Fernando I de Habsburgo became King of Hungary and Bohemia and the later King, Rodolfo II, grew up in Spain with his brothers and sisters.
Another important fact happened in 1555, when the Spanish religious Society of Jesus came into Prague. They were an important cultural linkers because they spread Spanish language in their schools and the established the catholic religion in Czech Republic.
As a footprint of that Spanish influence in Prague, we can see the famous Pražské Jezulátko that was a present from Discalced Carmelites, and the churches of Saint Salvador and Saint Clement.
Talking about literature, Spanish drama writers, like Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca, were very popular at that time. But after the Thirty Years' War (1618
SPANISH CULTURE FLEES FROM CLICHES
Nowadays, in the 21st Century, the future of the Spanish culture in Prague is to run away from stereotypes.
The cultural counsellor in the Spanish Embassy, Álvaro Díaz Duque thinks, As he explains, ”Since 2006, Spanish culture has a special week each year to spread its productions, but this year the week is going to turn into a month. We are sure that in the next years we are going to reap the benefits of all our work”, concludes Díaz Duque.
“the origins of the contacts between Spain and Czech Republic was settled in the 10th Century with some economic relationship, when Arabs ruled Spain. However, we find the most important links after 15th Century during the reign of Fernando II. At that time, Spain was the most powerful country of the world and other nations wanted to copy it. By de the way, Spain was known as 'the Empire on which the sun never sets'”. –1648), Spain starting to loose its power that was slowing down during the centuries. The Spanish culture had a new important relevance in Prague in the 20th Century with the Spanish painters Picasso, Miró and, above all, Salvador Dalí. As a matter of fact, Dalí was named by the Spanish film director Luis Buñuel, the Czech painter”, point out professor Stepanek.“We need to find a balance between past and present but we need to offer something different, and that is a challenge for us. Flamenco is important but culture means more than that. The best way to sell our culture is being part of the Czech society and work together in the local museums and festivals”. “in the last two year we have a kind of 'resurrection' of Spanish culture in Prague. The Spanish Prague exhibition was a turning point. According to the EU Presidency of Czech Republic in the first semester of 2009, the Spanish Embassy and the Cervantes's Institute prepared an ambitious project in a lot of festivals, like 'La Película'.