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Czech Republic: 6th annual Ghettofest in Brno to feature Romani recording studio Amaro Records

15.5.2017 10:10
Brno's 6th annual Ghettofest will take place on 10 June 2017. (PHOTO: Ghettofest)
Brno's 6th annual Ghettofest will take place on 10 June 2017. (PHOTO: Ghettofest)

The Ghettofest street festival, with its programmatic effort to bring people together irrespective of their differences, to cut through prejudices, and to open up the locality around Cejl Street in Brno, has become a harbinger of summer. This year the festival will have a different appearance - due to the closure of Francouzská Street, it will take place predominantly in the Hvězdička Park, in the spaces of a former prison, and at the Museum of Romani Culture.

The sixth annual Ghettofest is planned for Saturday, 10 June and will offer gastronomic and musical experiences. Despite the fact that it is taking place on a smaller spatial scale this year, visitors will not be deprived - a new aspect will be readings focused on the literature of minorities and political prisoners, while local residents will be involved more than ever, primarily in the dance, music and theater performances.

Local Romani recording studio Amaro Records will present itself on its own stage, and there are two discussions planned as well as a program for the very youngest visitors. The annual aim of the multi-genre festival is to open up the excluded locality in the area between Bratislavská and Hvězdová Streets in Brno to visitors irrespective of their age, ethnicity or sex so they can spend the day together in a festive atmosphere of positivity.

The festival organizers are not just interested in creating a one-off experience to demythologize the locality and share it with all who visit, but are also interested in longer-term considerations of the direction in which the area should head, as the public has automatically adopted the negative connotations of its nickname as "The Bronx of Brno". One component of the festival program, therefore, will be a reflection on current events in the locality with the direct involvement of local residents.

Visitors can anticipate two thematically focused discussions, the first of which, called "Romani Footprints", will be dedicated to the famous leading Romani figure from Brno, Eugen Horváth, and the project of naming the Hvězdička Park after him as well as working with Romani memory in general, while the second discussion, called "New Neighborhood", will be oriented toward the future of the entire area and should begin a longer-term search for a vision for the locality.

Local residents will primarily be involved during the dance and music programs, and there will be a new stage featuring local recording studio Amaro Records, where local groups will jam and perform. "Involving local residents is a big challenge for us and we are glad we have managed to reach out to Amaro Records in particular. This year the festival will be smaller, but it will be more concentrated, more intensive, and more focused precisely on local residents in particular. We are also preparing a new dramaturgic line, 'Poets in Prison'," Zdeněk Raiser, the co-founder and main manager of the festival, told news server Romea.cz.

Dance, music and theater will enliven the streets of Brno

Ghettofest's other musical stage will feature groups such as Vložte kočku, Iszek Baraque Band, Debbi Love and Meluzína. The Merci dance ensemble of young Romani performers will be included as they are every year, and the Museum of Romani Culture is preparing its own especially full program.

The Museum's program will include events for children and guided tours of its collections, while the DROM organization will contribute something similar through its own involvement in Ghettofest. Several theater ensembles will also perform:  There will be staging of "Kouzelné housličky" ("The Magic Violin") directed by Linda Keprtová and performed by the children who last year garnered no small success with their children's opera "Brundibár z ghetta" ("Brundibár from the Ghetto").

A theatrical program will also be arranged by the Polárka Theater for Children and Youth, instructors from which are preparing theatrical workshops for children at Hvězdička Park, and an actors' ensemble will perform a site-specific show in the building of the former prison, while the Divadlo Líšeň theater ensemble will present its live theatrical production "Figurkov". This year's innovation is a line of programming under the name "Poets in Prison", which will take place in the spaces of the former prison on Cejl Street.

Readings there are planned from the recently-published three-volume biography of the Czechoslovak Romani partisan Josef Serinek as well as readings from the memoirs of political prisoners, including some who were imprisoned at that very location in Brno. As in previous years, the Jiří Mahen Library and the NAIFF film festival will be involved and will screen a documentary film about local social problems.

The festival is organized, as always, by the Tripitaka group in collaboration with others. Entry is free of charge.

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Festival, Ghettofest, romská kultura, sociální turistika



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