Presenting a positive IMAGE

The Black Light Theatre of Prague performs nationwide.

IMAGE Black Light Theatre Prague (photo credit: Courtesy)
IMAGE Black Light Theatre Prague
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the 1950s, a Czech man named Jiri Srnec amassed a great deal of knowledge about a cutting-edge genre of performance that was trickling into Europe from Asia. Having made its way from China to Japan to Russia, via emperors and playwrights, an esthetic that employed an all-black set and special lighting was slowly winning the hearts and minds of artists and audiences. When Srnec premiered his version of “black theater” in Vienna, it marked the beginning of a tradition that continues to this day.
In 1986, Czech ballet dancer Eva Asterova collaborated with Srnec on a production that brought the esthetic of black theater to the poeticism and dynamics of dance.
Removing text and investing in movement brought new heights and range to black theater. Three years later, Asterova and partner Alexander Cihar founded IMAGE Black Light Theatre of Prague.
Next week, the company will return to Israel for an extensive tour, making stops in nearly a dozen cities.
IMAGE is something of a staple on the local calendar, largely thanks to the company’s relationship with the Karmiel Festival. The tour will begin with a late-night performance in Karmiel and will continue through Haifa, Ashdod, Beersheba, Petah Tikva, Netanya, Or Akiva, Modi’in, Jerusalem, Rishon Lezion and Tel Aviv.
For Asterova, the challenge to renew and to continually build on the time-tested tradition of black theater is immense.
“We try to find new and unusual possibilities for dance creations, which neither classical nor modern dance have at their disposal,” explains Asterova. “We are happy to touch on current topics. We find inspiration in contemporary art but also in fashion. We try to notice positive things in particular and thus create a counterbalance for all the negative aspects of the contemporary world.”
Asterova and Cihar feel very strongly about live music and the impact it has on their performances.
As such, they try to perform with live musicians whenever possible.
“We are entranced with linking live music, dance, acting and the black theater principle. During our 27 years in our home theater in Prague and elsewhere in the world, we strive to have live music on stage. But often, it must be replaced by recorded music. However, we also use original scores, written specifically for our productions,” she says.
The average IMAGE production takes around two years to make.
Asterova and Cihar like to take their time on each stage, from the development of the concept to the plot to the building of the set and, finally, the rehearsal stage.
“The first half year is spent selecting the theme and preparing the dramaturgy,” Asterova says. “The next six months are devoted to design, which is very extensive. In the third stage, we begin to test temporary props and, concurrently, work with the composer on a first draft of the score. The final six months are spent with the entire team – dancers, actors and lighting designers.”
For this tour, IMAGE’s seventh to Israel since 2000, the company will present a production that features favorite moments from several hit shows.
“We have performed over 100 times in Israel, and we feel a great deal of responsibility to the Israeli audience, which has always given us a warm welcome. The Israeli audience has very high expectations, and it is a big challenge not to disappoint them. In the 19th century, Mozart presented his opera Don Giovanni in Prague. He made a statement that we hold dear: ‘My Praguerites understand me.’ We feel the same is true of the Israelis. Our Israelis understand us,” smiles Asterova.
IMAGE Black Light Theatre Prague will perform in Israel from August 7 to 19. For more information, visit