SAD 4/2018

The issue opens with the next instalment of Miroslav Petříček’s series reflecting changes in perceptions of fashion through history, and this time his text „The Dandy as a Breach in Social Communication” is accompanied by an excerpt from Roland Barthes’s essay „Dandyism and Fashion”. The introductory section „Fashion of… Hate” then continues with two essays looking at attempts to describe human behaviour and inspired by immersive theatre (Neal Fibrian: „The Ritual Today” and Deborah Fielding: „Rattling Sheet Metal) and it closes with a review of Bernhard’s Woodcutters, staged at the Divadlo na Zábradlí (Theatre on the Balustrade) (Petra Zachatá: „Woodcutters in Czech Fashion). The section „Immersion and Other Retro” consists of Vladimír Mikulka’s review „It Happened at One Unveiling” (q.v.) describing the most recent immersive production of the Pomezí Project entitled A House in Apple Trees; Tereza Pavelková’s review of an experiential project by the Krutý Krtek (Cruel Mole) Theatre entitled The Expedition, inspired by the history of Czech samizdat, and Ester Žantovská’s essay „Blogs, Sci-fi, Series… and the Famous Nineties” where she reflects on three production of works by Tomáš Dianiška: Dependence Day, inspired by works and life of P.K.Dick, at the Letí theatre (directed by Jan Holec), Donna Martin Graduates and The Last Reason Not to Kill Yourself at the PALM OFF Studio (both directed by F.X.Kalba). In the section „Circuses… Above the Abyss” Kateřina Veselovská writes in her essay „To Breathe One’s Last in Flight” about three productions presented at the premises of Jatka78: Respire by the formation CieCircocentrique, 100% Circus by Mikkel Hobitz Filtenborg and Julien Auger, and Trygve vs a Baby by Trygve Wakenshaw. The section „Opera… Post-Factotum” is dedicated to Slovak theatre. Josef Červenka in his essay „Tosca, Unforeseen Rescuer” looks back at the operatic season 2017–2018 at the Slovak National Opera Theatre, in her essay „Are We Decent People?” Radka Kunderová writes about two productions of Duncan Macmillan’s texts introduced at the Slovakian festival Nová Dráma 2018 (Lungs, directed by Michael Vyskočáni, O.z.PER, and People, Places, Things, directed by Marián Amsler, Andrej Bajgar Theatre Nitra), and Jakub Škorpil’s essay „Elsewhere Is Elsewhere” looks at the production Post-Factotum by the Stoka Theatre (directed by Blaho Uhlár). In the section „Korean Glory” Martina Pecková Černá’s essay „The War in Contemporary Korean Theatre” is a reflection on productions she saw at the Performing Arts Market Seoul 2017 (Agota Kristof: The Notebook, directed by Si-joong Yoon, Haddangse; Goebbels’s Theatre, directed by Eun-jun Lee, Watchman; Kunhyung Park: All Soldiers are Pathetic, directed by Kunhyung Park, and Glory, choreography by Lyon Eun Kwon). In the section „Life with Gods… in Ireland” Kristina Žantovská writes about the exhibition Life with Gods: People, Places and Worlds Beyond at the British Museum in London and Ondřej Pilný’s essay „Irish Theatre: From Celtic to WTF” introduces contemporary Irish drama and at the same time foreshadows the play of this issue, Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland. And of course there is also a short story by Petr Vydra, entitled this time The Absent-minded Professor, and the fourth instalment of Egon Tobiáš’s comic strip Titanium Stalks.


It Happened at One Unveiling  A House in Apple Trees, the latest production by the Pomezí Projekt, which specializes in immersive theatre, continues on from two productions that were successful in terms of viewers, Pomezí and Invitation, however unlike them it relies less on scenography and the „site specific” magic of a chosen performance space. Instead it is performed in the rather confined and uncluttered interior of the functionalist Winternitz Villa, the interior of which is in no way specially adapted to the needs of the production. On the contrary, there is a great stress on the costumes: the Pomezí Projekt has even announced a dress code for the audience and so as well as the performers dressed in the fashions of the 1930s, a large percentage of the audience is also stylishly attired.
This corresponds closely to the basic situation the performance starts from and the organizers work to achieve the atmosphere of „a social gathering”. Events are set in the world of the first republic upper crust, Miss Alma Apfelstein whose family owns the house, and some other female members of a girls’ association Apaté are holding a home unveiling. Their friends are present and all the viewers also quite naturally find themselves in roles of guests (they can move around the house freely during the course of performance). In addition to rehearsed and fixed scenes A House in Apple Trees also has many passages when performers simply walk around the salon, terraces or garden and launch into improvised conversation with anybody who shows interest.
However, the story has a detective core. Following a cursory introduction of all participants it turns out that a crime has been committed (a valuable statuette has disappeared) and the various participants gradually become suspected of it. The whole becomes increasingly complicated, indications of various natures pile up, intricate and suspicious bonds between the various participants are revealed and it appears that all those present had quite good motives for the theft and for not revealing the full truth.
Action takes place simultaneously throughout the house, so that it is impossible to see everything and spectators must base their guesses on their necessarily limited experience. However, in a finale a partial explanation awaits them: in a secluded place they can hear the story of one chosen character, or to be more precise, a recapitulation of events from his or her point of view. But this account does not clear up the situation. The performance thus literally invites the audience to compare their own information with that acquired in other rooms. The additional collective reconstruction of the story with „guests” who saw it from a partly different angle is something of a bonus always offered by this kind of immersive theatre, but in the case of A House in Apple Trees with its element of crime fiction this offer is more tempting than ever.