The Story of Laterna Magika

Laterna magika was introduced with great international acclaim at Expo 58, the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958. The unique theatre was founded by director Alfréd Radok and scenographer Josef Svoboda who combined the film image and the performances of live actors and dancers. After a permanent ensemble and stage were established in Prague, the principles of the theatre were developed by a whole range of remarkable creative personalities; directors, choreographers, visual artists and music composers. Over thirty performances and various experimental projects were created and staged successfully in Prague and across the globe.

What exactly is Laterna magika? To put it briefly: a synchronous connection of theatre and film. In Laterna magika – just like in a dream – nothing is impossible. The basic rule is absolute freedom of scenographic and staging approaches. Prague’s Laterna magika has been developing this freedom continuously for several decades and has thus become its unofficial ambassador abroad. With the arrival of the latest technologies, the possibilities of combining film fiction and stage action became significantly broader. For instance, the latest multimedia performance CUBE represents a return to “classic” Laterna in the sense of a simple interconnection of dance and visual arts mediated by projection. At the same time, however, it keeps up with the times by using the possibilities of the most contemporary technology of projection mapping.

Source: Laterna magika

Alfréd Radok
Founder of Laterna magika, one of the most distinguished Czech and European directors of the second half of the 20th century. Worked at Divadlo 5. května, the National Theatre, the Municipal Theatres of Prague. His poetics continued those of the theatrical avant-garde, especially E. F. Burian. He strived for a complex use of all stage components to reach a most efficient atmosphere, often with elements of expressive bizarreness. He led the actors towards a psychologically convincing rendering of the characters. He worked in drama, opera and operetta. In his music performances, he strived to express music by visual means. He also employed his directing talent in film (e.g. Distant Journey, The Magic Hat, The Grandfather of Cars).
Josef Svoboda
Ranked among top world scenographers, famed as a founder of “directing scenography”. He co-founded Laterna magika and created the first polyecran ever (a system of parallel projections onto several projection surfaces in connection with stage action). By his distinctive approach to scenography, he made a significant impact on the development of this field of visual arts. In his body of work (about 600 performances) presented on world’s most prominent stages, he always managed to find a space to create exceptional harmony along with the text, music, acting and dance. Besides a whole range of Czech distinctions, he also received numerous international awards and titles of honour.