DEADTOWN: Forman Brothers’ Wild West Show

Smíchov embankment – wooden saloon,

It’s the beginning of the twentieth century and a conjuror, illusionist, and owner of a cheap cabaret is living out his dreams in magical Prague. He is obsessed with the technical miracles of his times: film, photography, and the husky sound of the phonograph. Yet his favourite fantasies are those of riding across the plains of Arizona, drinking with weather-beaten gunslingers in saloons and holding wild and beautiful women in his arms. At least that’s the image he had gleaned from all those silent westerns and yellowed photographs telling stories of a faraway land. And because his life is a constant balancing act between illusion and reality, he finds himself slipping into that dream world journey with incredible ease.


Ten years later, the Forman Brothers Theatre is embarking on a new adventure. In our nomadic life we have sailed the seas, wandered through opera houses, travelled with a ragtag troupe plus made our living chasing hens and pigs around a wooden shack.
Our new expedition is heading westwards… all the way to the Wild West in fact. Set in a time genuinely captured only in black and white photographs and which is as unforgiving to strangers as the turbulent sea to theatre-makers setting sail from the heart of Europe.

Apart from old photographs, our image of the Wild West was shaped by silent western films and slapstick comedies. As naïve children from a small Czech town, we can easily believe that the Wild West of the turn of the century looked black and white or coloured in soft shades of sepia. And if we happen to have lost this idea by now, that imperfect image still remains close to our theatrical vision.
Thus, this new performance by the Forman Brothers Theatre oscillates between theatre and silent film.

A few years ago, a poor travelling troupe couldn’t have even dreamed of such a combination. But time marches on with new technologies developing even faster and becoming accessible to us as well. To achieve the proper and most compelling illusion, we have also constructed a new theatre tent.
Just as was the case in our previous shows, we are trying to make use of this space right down to the last centimetre. Owing to the imagination and work of designers who have been collaborating with us for such a long time, we are also keen to bring puppets, masks and painted sets to the play as well.
Naturally, all of this is accompanied by distinct acting, subtle light moods, film animations, live and recorded music and rich foley effects – all combined into images and sensations helping to convey the story and its message.

The beginning of the 20th century was an era of new technological miracles. On top of moving pictures, it also brought the photographic apparatus, phonograph and the first record players. Events frequently involved funfair entertainment that many people felt allured to but which scared others off. No wonder the owner of a dubious Prague cabaret, a conjurer and illusionist, a person for whom the boundary between imagination and reality is not always clear, is absolutely enthralled by these zany novelties. A man with a penchant for the Wild West, who thanks to these inventions, is able to come one step close to living life on the edge with gunslingers, the desolate Arizona desert and exotic beauties. His business tucked away in the narrow streets of Prague is not exactly thriving, so he decides to turn his dream into a new adventure – to take spectators on a journey where illusions can become reality.


Photo © Irena Vodáková, Jana Lábrová, Josef Lepša
Banner © Josef Sodomka

  • Story synopsis and script: Ivan Arsenjev, Petr Forman
  • Director: Petr Forman
  • Scenography: Josef Sodomka, Matěj Forman
  • Tent interior design: Matěj Forman
  • Choreography: Veronika Švábová, Marek Zelinka and collective
  • Music and songs: Marko Ivanovič, Jarda Traband Svoboda, Ennio Morricone – La Lettera di Lincoln, arrangement: Jan Hasenöhrl, in cooperation with Czech National Symphony Orchestra
  • Costumes: Andrea Sodomková
  • Animation, film image: Josef Lepša
  • Camera: Jaromír Kačer
  • Sound effects and foley sounds: Michal Holubec, Marek Poledna (Studio Bystrouška)
  • Visual postproduction: i/o post
  • Projection technology: 3dsense
  • Light design: Louise Gibaud, Petr Forman
  • Light concept: Igor Schmidt, Petr ‘Goro’ Horký, Petr Forman
  • Sound concept: Philippe Leforestier, Philippe Tivilier

Comedians, illusionists, gunfighters and beautiful ladies:

Petr Forman, Veronika Švábová, Marek Zelinka, Jacques Laganache, Daniela Voráčková/Simona Babčáková, Josefína Voverková, Vojta Švejda/Jiří Kniha, Michael Vodenka/Miroslav Kochánek, Ivan ”Zobák” Pelikán, Petr “Goro” Horký, Josef Sodomka/Ivan Arsenjev, Philippe Leforestier, Mitakuye Oyeasin, Jakub Tokoly a Dizzy Gilagio (Didier Castelle, Francois Lezer, Michel Oger, Thierry Malard)



Forman Brothers Theatre


In coproduction with:

Théâtre-Sénart, Scène nationale – Lieusaint (France)

Théâtre du Manège – Scène nationale – Maubeuge (France)

Le Manège Mons – Centre Dramatique – Mons (Belgium)

Parc de la Villette – Paris (France)

MCB° Bourges – Bourges (France)

MC2 : Grenoble – Grenoble (France)

Latitude 50, Pôle des arts du cirque et de la rue – Marchin (Belgium)

l'Avant Seine/Théâtre de Colombes – Colombes (France)


Supported by:

Théâtre de Cornouaille – Scène nationale de Quimper – Quimper (France)

Silkeborg Dukketeaterfestival – Festival of Wonder – Silkeborg (Denmark)

Festival Internazionale di Andria Castel dei Mondi – Andria (Italy)

Città di Andria (Italy)

La Ville de Rennes – Rennes (France)

Théâtre national de Bretagne – Rennes (France)


Financial support:

Ministerstvo kultury ČR        Hlavní město Praha



CS Cargo

ČNSO a Prague Proms