SAD 1/2016

The first issue of the year brings, as always, the complete results of the critical survey that the Theatre Critics’ Awards are based on (q.v.). An essay by Miroslav Petříček, “Post-Modern Endings” opens a cycle dedicated to the “inheritance” of post-modernism and it accompanies excerpts from David Rudrum’s and Nicholas Starvis’s essay entitled “Ghosts of Post-Modernism”. In the section “The Post-Modernism… of Organic Comedy” it is accompanied by a snippet from an interview with French action artist Jacques Débris (“Rolling the Stone Aside”), Jorge Garcia’s article on the artistic-activist group Real Realists (“Delusion Grinds Reality”), and a review of Romeo Castellucci’s productions La Metope del Partenone and Oresteia (Organic Comedy?) by Soňa Šimková (“Romeo Castellucci After 13th November”). In the section “National… VerTeDance” Lucie Kocourková writes about the production The Nutcracker and the Cuddly Mouse, with new choreography by Petr Zuska to Tchaikovsky’s music (“The Nutcracker or Saint Nicholas?”), and Karolina Plicková (“To Tune In on the Present”) reviews projects by the VerTeDance tandem developed in collaboration with Jaro Viňarský (Chybění/Absent) and David Zambrano (Ceviche). The section “From the Pit to the Ball and further to the Decline” introduces three productions by the Slovak director Michal Vajdička. Martina Ulmanová writes about a politically-inspired production, The Leaky Pit at Astorka Korzo ’90 (“The Pit, and to Make Matters Worse, a Leaky One”), and Timrava’s Ball at the Slovak National Theatre (“Wine, Women, and Blood”) where Vajdička also staged an adaptation of the movie The Barbarian Invasions which is reviewed by Milo Juráni (“The Empire Reconciled with Barbarians”). The section “Woodcutters… in Poland” is dedicated to Polish theatre and Jana Machalická writes here about Lupa’s Woodcutters/Holzfällen (“Lupa Understands His Bernhard”), Jan Jiřík reviews The French, Warlikowski’s adaptation of In Search of Lost Time, and Paweł Sztarbowski presents the upcoming generation of Polish directors (“IP Generation”). In the section “Macbetin… and Caesar” Ester Žantovská (“Putinian Variations”) reviews the productions Vladimir Macbetin by the Spitfire Company and Putin and Biľak at a Safe by the Švandovo Theatre at Smíchov. Vladimír Mikulka writes about The Cherry Orchard by Theater Bremen (“To Brno for Bremen”) and Radka Kunderová about Róbert Alföldi’s Julius Caesar at the Vígszínház and Mela Kyiak’s Rebellion, staged at the Maxim Gorki Theater by András Dömötör (“Political Theatre Europe”). An interview with Hungarian playwright and the Ferdinand Vaněk Award holder Csaba Székely accompanies his drama Mind the Gap (all q.v.). The “Comedy Mix” presents Ad Hoc Theatre, and a new comic strip cycle “Theatre Sadism Lessons” by the playwright and graphic artist S.d.Ch. is introduced by its first instalment, Times New Roman.

The Theatre Critics’ Awards The Awards are a continuation of the former Alfréd Radok Awards. They are traditionally based on the sums of votes in a survey held by the Svět a divadlo (World and Theatre) magazine (71 critics participated this year). The 2015 survey is dominated by the Komorní scéna Aréna Ostrava and their performance of Tomáš Vůjtek’s play about Adolf Eichman, Hearing: in Ivan Krejčí’s direction it became the Production of the Year, the performer in the lead role Marek Cisovský won  the Best Actor category, Vůjtek’s text was voted the Best Czech Play of the Year, and the Komorní scéna Aréna Ostrava won Best Theatre of the Year. The Talent of the Year also came from the Aréna – the actor Štěpán Kozub. The award for Best Actress was won by Marie Štípková for her portrayal of Gesche Gottfried in Fassbinder’s Bremer Freiheit staged by the Municipal Theatre of Kladno under the direction of Martin Františák. The award for Best Set Design of the Year went to Lucie Škandíková for her scenery for the production of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead at the National Theatre, and the Music of the Year was composed by Marek Doubrava for the production The Land of Sounds directed by Jiří Adámek at the Minor Theatre in Prague.

Csaba Székely and the Ferdinand Vaněk Award It was the second time the Svět a divadlo (World and Theatre) magazine has invited playwrights to participate in a contest of short plays about politics, published last year in a book entitled They are Big Shots and Other Plays with Politics. Prominent European authors from Belarus, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Great Britain took part in the contest – Cristian Ceresoli, Chaim Cigan (Karol Sidon), Magda Fertacz, Nikolaj Chalezin, DC Jackson, Tomáš Kafka, Viliam Klimáček, Artur Pałyga, S.d.Ch. (Miloslav Vojtíšek), Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk and Csaba Székely. The international jury – Krystyna Krauze (Poland), Milan Lasica (Slovakia) and Paul Wilson (Canada) – chose the second winner of the Ferdinand Vaněk Award, named after Václav Havel’s literary alter ego. Following Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk in 2013, the award went to Csaba Székely for his play They are Big Shots: a fable about people longing for a strong leader. SAD now publishes his latest playlet entitled Mind the Gap. It is set in the ruins after a world war in 2116 where a mother is wandering with her daughter and son who “accidentally” shot their father because he insisted on being their leader. This family are “Right-Handers” who hate “Left-Handers” and are searching for a legendary subway that will take them to food supplies. The issue also includes an interview entitled The Bitter Pill with Fruit Juice. Csaba Székely recounts how he got into theatre by accident when he heard about a contest announced by BBC which he subsequently won. He is a Romanian Hungarian (Székely in Hungarian) and life in Transylvania is another of his themes. His play Michael the Brave was declared the Play of 2014/2015 Season by Hungarian critics. He sees political danger at the present time in the fact that “we listen to people who give simple and aggressive answers to complicated questions”.