Jiří Srnec, founder of Black Light Theater dead at 90
The theater and artist Jiří Srnec, the founder of the black theater, with whom he reaped success since the 1960s, died on Sunday at the age of 90. The spokesman of the National Theater, Tomáš Staněk, informed ČTK about his death.
The Black Theater takes advantage of the fact that black-clad actors are not visible on the darkened stage, but their props are. Srncovo divadlo was established in the early 1960s as part of the theatrical avant-garde of the time. The most famous productions of Srnc’s productions include The Striped Dream, Legends of the Old Mother of Prague, Alice in the Realm of Miracles, Peter Pan, Labyrinth, Dream Week and The White Pierot in Black.
Theater historian Nina Malíková, who specializes in puppet and alternative theater, told ČTK today that Jiří Srnec will probably forever be connected with the phenomenon of black theater. This is despite the fact that more people were involved in the birth of this phenomenon in Czechoslovakia at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, at the time of the experiments not only in the theater. These include the couple Josef and Hana Lamek, as well as people from the then Na Zábradlí Theater.
Malíková reminded that the luminescent theater was one of the experiments at the time, and Srnec also added it to his projects. “To this day, these elements guarantee black theater popularity in Asian countries, where the luminous elements on the stage are very popular,” Malíková reminded.
He admits that in recent decades the black theater has been more of an attraction for tourists in the Czech Republic, and many times abroad, elements of it are part of various cabaret shows and shows. “However, the principles of black theater were also taken over by Laterna magika, and to this day some creators, such as the well-known directing duo SKUTR, draw on it,” she added. SKUTR, which consists of Lukáš Trpišovský and Martin Kukučka, will take over the position of artistic director of the National Theater Drama from next season.
Srnec also collaborated with the Semafor Theater, Laterna magika, the Spejbl and Hurvínek Theater and the Munich State Opera. In the early 1990s, he founded and led the ensemble Imaginativ Praha. In 2011, he received the Medal of Merit from President Václav Klaus. In 2018, he was awarded the Thalia Award for extraordinary artistic contribution to Czech theatrical art.
Jiří Srnec was born on August 29, 1931, he graduated from the State Vocational School of Graphic Arts, piano and the Department of Folk Instruments at the State Conservatory in Prague. At this time he also wrote his own music and attended private lessons. He completed his education at the DAMU Faculty of Puppetry. Already in the last year of DAMU, he worked with the principle of the black cabinet and later founded his own ensemble, with which he developed these procedures.
Jiří Vyskočil from the Na Zábradlí Theater took over the management of the newly formed ensemble and promoted its performance at the Scottish Festival in Edinburgh in 1962, thus starting the world fame of the newly formed Jiří Srnec Black Theater.
The theater has performed around the world, toured more than 300 countries in 70 countries and has participated in 77 theater festivals.