Carole Wears – Prague Fringe Associate Director and Co-founder. Photo: Martin Mlata.
Prague’s Fringe Festival has always met with success, but this year has been an exceptional year for all involved. I had a chance to chat with some of the extremely talented performers and witness their wonder and for the first time, as well as an opportunity to get my fringe on with some of the organisers and volunteers involved with the festival.
This part 1 “People in Fringe” special looks at writer and performer Stu Mentha and Director and co-founder Carole Wears. See what they had to say on the festival, the city and the atmosphere of this splendid and hilarious past week.
Carole Wears – Associate Director and Co-founder
Where are you from originally, Carole? How long have you been in Prague?
(Laughs) Well I am originally from Newcastle upon Tyne and I am still based there. Fringe Festival Praha is truly international. Our technical and Production Director is based in New Zealand, for example. Fringe brings many people from across the world to the city year after year and of all of those thousands of people over the last 13 years of festival, I don’t know one who hasn’t fallen in love with it. Of course I feel Prague is my second home because I am here whenever I can be, planning the festival, programming, meeting friends and enjoying the city. My partner in Fringe Festival Prague, Steve Gove is one of my oldest friends as well as business comrade, perhaps he is the greatest lure of all!!
How would you describe Prague in adjectives? Bohemian (in the wider sense!)
Captivating and generous.
Nice! And how would you describe Prague Fringe?
A Family, a very very large, family…full of all associated drama in all senses of the word!
What’s your involvement with the festival?
I am one of the Directors of the festival, there at the beginning when we had a meeting with Prague City Council armed only with an A4 sheet of paper outlining the concept of Fringe, our own enthusiasm for a Fringe in Prague and a translator! To the eternal credit of the officer we saw that day, she got it, understood what Fringe can do for a city, bringing in hundreds of repeat fringe cultural attenders back to the city year after year. Fringe Festival Praha was born the very next year and this year it is a teenager!
What’s been the best moment of the festival so far?
We spend so much of the year planning this event, the weeks and days leading up to it are beyond frantic, believe it or not so many people contribute their time and energy simply for the love of this being that when the first show of the festival goes up I just feel a huge sense of happiness and relief and excitement of what is to come!
Stu Mentha – Writer / actor of ‘Cat Black’
Photo: Petr Kurečka
Where are you from originally, Stu? How did you get to Prague?
I’m from Melbourne (Australia), I was born there but I grew up in a place called Warrnambool. And I came to Prague in 2009 after an Erasmus program in Italy and fell in love with the city and made a lot of friends.
How would you describe Prague in adjectives, Stu?
Hmmm. Free… and orange – because of the rooves and the certain glow that Prague has.
And how would you describe Prague Fringe? How many years is this now?
This is my third year. It’s just FUN. There is so much variety, from magicians and illusionists to cabaret and theatre people. I love the atmosphere.
You’re from a Creative Writing background so if there was a famous author who was going to write a book about you. who would you choose?
Well, I’d like to say Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but he’s passed away now…
It can be hypothetical 🙂
Ok, so maybe him. I love magical realism.
Your show ‘Cat Black’ is about the mind of a cat being transferred into a human, which sounds pretty exciting. Do you have a cat at home?
I did have a cat! This was part of the inspiration for the play, but there were many seeds. Her name was Kismet – it means fate in Hindi I think and she had this great personality. She really felt she was human. She loved to drink champagne for instance.
She loved to drink champagne?
(Laughs) Not that we would give it to her straight from the bottle, she’d lick it from your finger. She loved it!
More People in Fringe interviews coming soon. Be sure to check out the last day of Fringe today! There is still time!