The Story of Krabat, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Read more about this spooky ballet in "Re:Source" at the top of this page.

This Spooky Ballet’s for Everyone — Especially Teenagers

The story of Krabat is the story of a boy and girl who succeed in taking responsibility for their own lives. It is the story of thousands of teenagers, from the Rio de Janeiro favelas, from Srebrenica and, perhaps, the Czech Republic’s Ústí nad Labem or some quarters of Prague; of teenagers who have lost their families or have been given over by their own families or friends into the hands of malevolent people.

It is the story of everyone and, alas, an eternal story. And in no way will this be changed by the fairy-tale scenes of the dark forest, the strange Godpapa, the magical Koraktor and the cruel Master. That which we see is reality recast into legend.

The tale of Krabat dates back to the time around the end of the Thirty Years’ War. The historical statistics speak volumes: the population plunged by an average of thirty per cent, fifty in the case of men. One of the cities most devastated was Magdeburg, whose population fell from 25,000 to 2,464 during the war.

The poster for the ballet

Even though for most of the war the Czech lands were spared the worst of the atrocities, the population still dropped by a third. During the war and in its aftermath, the people were afflicted by numerous epidemics too. Perhaps that is why in the legend of Krabat cursed men appear in the black forest, dying one by one in solitude and devoid of feeling and passion, while the villages are full of young single women who strive to establish contact with the boys’ phantoms.

In this post-war period, people believe that only miracles can turn their lives around. Gossip abounds, stories replete with magic and witchcraft are rife among the people, stories similar to that of Krabat.

This is an excerpt from the full background story on the Czech National Ballet’s next premiere, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Krabat, or Čarodějův Učeň in Czech). You can read the full story by clicking on the black “Re:Source” tab at the top of this page. The full article is in both English and Czech.

Premieres are set for Feb 28 and Mar 1 at The National Theatre, with the nearest further performances at 2 and 7 pm on both Mar 3 and 17. — oo

Photo Credits: The National Theatre Ballet

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