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Young critics prize winner Michal Zahálka arrives in London

12 JANUARY 2015 - Last September, Michal Zahálka received the first ever prize awarded by the Association of Czech Theatre Critics to authors of theatre criticism aged under 30. A student of theatre studies at Prague’s Charles University, Zahálka is a regular contributor to a wide range of publications, including Czech academic journals, newspapers, magazines and e-zines. The winner of the award receives prize money as well as a scholarship to undertake an internship at one of the Czech Centres in Europe. Zahálka has chosen to attend the Centre in London.

“One of the main priorities of the Czech Centres is to produce Czech stage productions abroad. Well-informed criticism serves as important guidance for us. We therefore decided to support its future,” said Vilma Anýžová, General Director of the Czech Centres.

Michal Zahálka will be in London from 19-25 January.

Zahálka was chosen to be the competition winner by a panel of five experts which also, after discussing the works of the 19 entries, gave honourable mention to Veronika Štefanová who specialises in Cirque Nouveau, and Tatiana Brederová who focuses on contemporary Russian theatre, particularly documentary theatre. 

“Despite differing views regarding the evaluation criteria and the great diversity of texts, the panel’s final decision stressed the importance of the author guiding the reader through the text with clearly formulated ideas,” said Martin Bernátek, chair of the judging panel and one of the competition organisers, “Out of all the candidates, Michal Zahálka best demonstrated this ability.”

The competition for young theatre critics was inspired by the Věra Jirousová Award for Fine Art Critics.

Jana Návratová, the award’s initiator and board member of the Association of Czech Theatre Critics, commented on the future of the competition: “We are currently considering making the award a biennial event. If we are able to stimulate interest in critiquing a wide spectrum of performing arts and increase respect for this demanding and vital discipline, then the award will have achieved its purpose.”

Read some of Michal Zahálka’s work here (in Czech only):
http://www.divadelni-noviny.cz/author/michal-zahalka

Source: http://www.idu.cz/cs/stipendijni-cena-mladych-kritiku-ma-sveho-viteze
Translated by Esther Jones Russell

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