History of the black light theatre

The black light theatre, just like many other important things, originated in ancient China. The first black light theatre performance was created for the emperor’s entertainment, and it was actually a shadow play – the Chinese used candlelight, with whose help they put on a shadow performance on a white screen. This style of theatre became popular, and in approximately the 18th century this art spread to Japan, where it began to be used in the “Bunraku” traditional Japanese puppet theatre.

The techniques of modern black light theatre were also used during the period at the beginning of cinematography, when cinematographic techniques were still very much in their infancy. Many artists (including Georges Méliès) utilised black light theatre techniques to depict ideas which originated in their minds.

Modern black light theatre came into existence in the 1950s, mainly thanks to the initiative of French avant garde artist George Lafaye, which is why he is often referred to as the father of black light theatre.

This period is linked to the invention of the ultraviolet lamp which, during the hippy period of the 60s and 70s, became a fad among young people striving to find new colours as a symbol of the concept of freedom.
During the same period, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, a new and magical theatre language was created – a new type of theatre, offering previously unknown possibilities and colours.

This new type of theatre required complete darkness, the wide use of black materials and paint, and ultraviolet lighting, which offered a wide scale of all other colours.

The secret of the black light theatre is ultraviolet light, also known as “black light”, and darkened theatre auditoriums shrouded in black fabric. This non-traditional combination gave this specific type of theatre its current name: black light theatre.

Many people have claimed that the beginnings of this artistic genre in Czechoslovakia were simultaneously also the beginnings of the era of communism. After all, people also used this type of theatre and theatre scenes to communicate important information from government circles. That is why these specific protest messages were also referred to as black light theatre.

In the 90s, after the “Velvet Revolution”, many Czech artists also began to develop and promote the principles of the black light theatre. It was they who contributed to raising its reputation, and declared Prague as the black light theatre capital. For this and other reasons, we are narrating a fantastic story in Prague, which utilises these amazing modern black light theatre techniques.