Prague Burlesque at the Theatre Royal
First a bit about the venue as it reflects the fortunes of the country itself. It opened in 1929 as the Maceška Theatre (later renamed to Illusion) at the height of what was called the First Republic in an age of Vaudeville, Cabaret and Burlesque. I’ve previously described it as a little like the Hackney Empire in London. It’s located about 200 metres behind the National Museum so you can walk here from the top of Wenceslas Square in about 5 minutes.
World War Two and the Communist era saw the demise of the once popular theatre as a private enterprise and it’s not until 1990 that it is returned to the Maceška family. In 2014 they rented the location to Artistic Director Jean-Christophe Gramont and he set about employing designers and performers to revive the fortunes of the theatre by first renaming it to Theatre Royal and turning it into a multi-purpose cultural venue with a regular headline theme – Prague Burlesque.
What is Prague Burlesque?
Burlesque has Italian origins and for hundreds of years could be described as parodying existing performances. The best concise description I’ve found is “to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works”. But, nowadays you are much more likely to see original performances.
Is it all Striptease?
Prague Burlesque takes it’s form from the English Victorian times which took the original musical theatre parody and combined it with pantomime and to a lesser degree, slapstick. But even then it was not enough to simply be a comedy/parody so the Victorians introduced the “risqué” element. By the 1930s the American style of Burlesque increased the role of the “Chorus line” and associated striptease to make up 30% of a show. This is still popular today albeit with a lot more use of tassles for covering up the vital spots. The word “Extravaganza” was originally used to describe a Burlesque performance.
What’s it Like?
It’s a theatre performance first and foremost and people dress for it so expect strings of pearls and slicked back hair, low lighting, comfortable chairs and a 1920’s Art Deco aura. You might lose the story line a little. In fact you might not even recognise a story line but if you treat it as a play which leans heavily towards erotic art then you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fun night out and depending on the configuration, tables a chairs are great for small groups to relax and have a drink while watching the show.
Want to See a Performance at the Theatre Royal?
Remember that there are events on all the time so check the Theatre Royal website https://www.leroyal.cz/ for details or at the time of writing the Prague Burlesque performance which is regularly held every Friday night is called “Ladies of Porcelain” so check the Prague Burlesque website for details and note that not all of their performances are at the Royal.