Alliance for New Music-Theatre
The Václav Havel Project
“Everything– from the writing to the stage direction and the acting itself– is a marvel to watch in the Alliance for New Music-Theatre’s salute to Václav Havel.” -DC Theatre Scene
Since the show’s opening in September 2013, people have been saying that The Václav Havel Project is a must-see piece of theatre. As part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival in Washington D.C., the Alliance for New Music-Theatre, sponsored by the Czech Embassy, performed Antiwords and Unveiling in celebration of the man and his legacy. The performances were highly acclaimed by critics from DC Metro Theater Arts, DC Theatre Scene, and others.
The excitement continues this May at the Artisphere Black Box Theatre in Arlington, VA.
The Alliance for New Music-Theatre will bring back Unveiling, presenting it in conjunction with the highly-anticipated world-premiere of a new short work of music-theatre, Vaněk Unleashed.
Unveiling is one of Havel’s most popular plays and features a bourgeois couple entertaining their friend, Ferdinand Vaněk, a dissident playwright who discovers in that one evening that since his political imprisonment the world has grown into a slippery and chaotic place. The central character represents to some degree the dramatic alter ego of the playwright, who observes society around him, enduring painfully funny angst in his alienation. The play also explores the issues of integrity, morality and responsibility. The play was originally produced as part of the 2013 Mutual Inspirations Festival sponsored by the Czech Embassy and directed by Miřenka Čechová.
Vaněk Unleashed, composed by Maurice Saylor and written and directed by Susan Galbraith, is a uniquely American response to the same, most beloved central character of Vaněk, In this work the Alliance adds to the tradition that includes playwrights Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard of paying tribute to Havel by making Vaněk a universal character. Audiences will find Vaněk still struggling with issues of the slipperiness of identity as he careens imaginatively between prison and the more terrifying and absurd world outside. However, the work takes its performance style from two of our own country’s most popular forms, the American musical and silent screen comedy, in particular the work of Harry Langdon, who sits in the pantheon of clown greats with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. It was said of Langdon that his film persona seemed to have been dropped to earth without a set of instructions. The same could be said of our man Vaněk.
On May 7-8, Vaněk Unleashed will be accompanied by live music from The Snark Ensemble, whose members have composed and performed more than 30 silent film scores, treating audiences to a blend of boogie land jazz and musical slapstick comedy
Havel Photo Exhibit
The production also will be accompanied by a selection of photographs by Jan Kašpar, a family friend of Václav Havel, on display at the Artisphere from May 7-18. The photographs reveal an intimate portrait of life behind the scenes at Havel’s cottage in Hrádeček, located in northern Bohemia, Czech Republic. Taken from 1975-2011, the black and white photographs capture nuances of Havel’s life, including his dissident years at the cottage where his wife Olga celebrated her birthday through theme parties and theatrical performances. Havel also featured a number of dissident artists at his cottage, including the band the Plastic People of the Universe and actor Pavel Landovský, holding concerts and informal readings in his barn as an outlet during some of the most difficult years of their lives.
About Václav Havel
Václav Havel (1936-2011) was a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician who was the ninth and last president of Czechoslovakia (1989–1992) and the first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003) having masterminded the bloodless Velvet Revolution. He wrote more than 20 plays and numerous non-fiction works, which have been translated internationally.