eWAT V. (October 2020)
This year‘s eWAT, i.e. a selection of articles from World and Theatre magazine (SAD), has two parts. The first one includes articles on Czech theatre productions before Corona quarantine and focuses on sub-branches of alternative theatre called in jest „post-normal theatre”. We regularly deal with these peculiar theatre forms (see previous eWATs) as they, in our opinion, represent the most original works of Czech theatre. They are productions that use punk, raw, grotesque means to “save the world” from looming destruction. They can be seen as forebodings of the strange, “post-normal” times that came with the pandemic, which is addressed directly in the second part of ewAT in two plays by European playwrights commissioned by SAD.
Karel Král: OBSESSED BY GOD
A Feuilleton about the Absolute
“Dejvické Theatre is famous for sticking to the rule, that less is more. The self-confidence of the actors does not need a shiny pedestal, their humour is dry and the basic expression is the ironic poker face… Those so-called ‘romantic’ souls might find the production too cold and the irony cynical, but as a true romantic myself, I see cynical camouflage better in the kitschy appeal to emotions. I remain fascinated by the contagiousness of Dejvice genius loci.”
Jakub Škorpil: SIMULATIONS OF REALITY BY ANNA KLIMEŠOVÁ
From Barunka to Ruler
“There is a great deal of playfulness and directness in the production. The creative team, including the director, do not behave as performing actors, but allude to a certain authenticity; this is emphasized by them using their real names, when they introduce each other at the beginning of the play as they stand in front of the closed curtains. However, the surnames aren’t mentioned and the first names are given in a diminutive form, giving the impression that this is a friendly community. In so doing, they underline another important topic in the production, which is that of credibility and manipulation: as happens with the media - we are given little choice but to believe what they tell us.”
Karel Král: ANARCHY AND ORDER
Yellow Darkness and Rain Dance
“Anarchism represents one aspect of Petr Nikl’s artistic personality, (also a fine artist and performer): it manifests itself in his improvisations with children, or perhaps in his play with randomness. The toy robotic cockroaches, supervised by Nikl, that spread paint on paper, creating images with their tiny artificial legs, is a highlight of his artistic approach. (I still fail to understand how even these images manage to carry Nikl’s autograph: can toys serve their Masters, as pupils of great painters do?) An opposite aspect of his artistic personality is his perfectionism, which is especially apparent in his paintings and drawings.”
Ester Žantovská: POSTRITUAL WARIOT IDEAL
Alcohols and Depths
“In this ‘DIY’ production, so typical of both these theatre companies, the given quest manifests itself as an extremely demanding task. The result is grotesque with a touch of the absurd; an analogue horror of helplessness amidst a horrific mass of dysfunctional objects.”
Ester Žantovská: MORE PESTS TO THE THEATRE! LESS ILLUSIONISTS
“The two boys entertain themselves mainly by destroying everything around them; often in the guise of ‘knightly’ duels. These begin with a ceremonious exchange of soccer flags, after which the destruction begins, either as a brutal soccer match with one of the cardboard houses in place of a football or as a duel with the family busts. The father beats his sons furiously with foam rubber sticks for the damage they have caused, and then tries to mend what he can. Yet before he can manage it, the devastation continues, as the boys have another idea… However, much of the destruction is due to the father’s quick temper, which makes him rage and then vandalize everything within his reach.”
Vladimír Mikulka: JUST LIKE THE DINOSAURS
The Fourth Monkey
“All the strange onstage actions, from drawing with mustard and ketchup to eating a heap of pills (sometimes in the period between the dinosaurs and prehistoric humans), are performed in an almost scientific manner, ‘going through the motions, in a matter-of-fact way, without a trace of psychologizing or conventional acting. It seems simple, almost banal, but compared to other performances, you realize how rare this ability is. For those more acquainted with Handa Gote’s productions, it is not something new, but even so, the way in which the performers inhabit the stage never ceases to impress, or even to fascinate. They master this exceptional art of non-acting, and yet are fully expressive.”
Tomáš Procházka: ELEGANT IMPROPRIETY
Rolling of Eyes
“It seems at first that we are going to watch the obligatory ‘meeting of an umbrella and a sewing machine on an autopsy table’, but the reality is much more sophisticated. While in his work with the text Adámek ‘only’ confirmed his qualities, his work with space and props is really beyond his usual territory. Moreover, he presented ‘object theatre’ which is currently unrivalled in Czech theatres. The collection of objects used does not say much: an ironing board, a medicine ball, a bow and arrows, cutlery, a stepladder, a fire extinguisher etc.”
FREDRIK BRATTBERG: VIRUS (A FUGE)
“She: Good. And then isolate her, the other one. And then you isolate her, that one.
Very Little She: I can’t breathe, I …
Very Little He: Help.
Little He: (To He.) They’re dying down there, do you realise that!
Very Little He: I can’t … breathe …
Little He: (To He.) Do you realise that they’re dying down there???
Very Little She and Very Little He die.”
CRISTIAN CERESOLI: THE PAIN OF WRITING
“These days, every now and then someone says to me, eh, who knows how much you have to write with all that is going on, eh, who knows what inspirations with all this virus and the deaths and the lockdowns, eh, who knows who knows. Well, I don't.”
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