Úvodní stránka | WAT | eWAT | eWAT VI. (November 2022) | Last Drops (2021/2022 season at The National Theatre in Prague)
Jakub Škorpil

Last Drops (2021/2022 season at The National Theatre in Prague)

The 2021/2022 theatre season at the National Theatre in Prague was deeply influenced by two major events: the announcement that Daniela Špinar and her team are to leave the theatre; and the transfer of the repertoire from the 2020/2021 season (cancelled because of Covid restrictions) to the 2021/2022 season. From the six productions originally planned, only five were actually realized on stage. The last one; The People vs. Kramer, about the confiscation of the Estates Theatre in 1920[1], written by Petra Tejnorová, Nina Jacques, and Jan Tošovský should have had its premiere in February 2022, but was premiered as one-time event in November 2022 under the title Estate Theatre to the Nation!

mother… It would be redundant to add anything to Vladimír Mikulka’s in-depth analysis of Gorky’s Vassa Zheleznova, directed by Jan Frič, which is published in this issue of eWAT. My only comment would be that the National Theatre could not have opened the season in October 2021 in a better way. Although Daniela Špinar has often complained that Czech theatre does not reach world-class level, or even European level, this production of Vassa disproves that claim to a certain extent. The director, the dramaturge, and the actors created a seamless production with a clear aesthetic; and an interpretation that did not necessarily need to be agreed on (especially the references to the 1990s in the Czech Republic), but that could be challenged and critically assessed. As demonstrated by Mikulka, Jan Frič has matured at the National Theatre into a director capable of working with a large canvas. In addition, Frič has become more sophisticated and more precise in his approach: he uses increasingly refined directorial tools while maintaining his unique style. The success of Vassa at the annual Theatre Critics Awards as the ‘Production of the Year 2021’ speaks for itself. This production won; although it was disadvantaged by being performed only three times (including the pre-premiere). What is more, the German Theatre Festival in Prague was taking place at the same time, so the Production of the Year Award for Vassa shows how strongly it resonated with the theatre critics.

…and father The second premiere directed by Jan Frič in the 2021/2022 theatre season was The Father Watches Over the Daughter by Ondřej Novotný, a playwright and dramaturge from the X10 Theatre. This play is a product of the New Drama Studio project. The dramaturges of the National Theatre commissioned four playwrights, three male and one female, to write new plays for the theatre. The playwrights, Ondřej Novotný, Petr Erbes, Štěpán Gajdoš, and Ivana Myšková were given scholarships for ten months, and they met with the dramaturges on a regular basis to work on texts that would be presented as part of the New Blood cycle of productions. This project was almost ruined by the Covid-19 interruption. Yet, the 2020/2021 season, the second round of this project went ahead, but the nearly eight-month-long work had to be carried out online. As a result, unfortunately, one of the three participants decided to leave. The two remaining participants were Marie Nováková (a dramaturge of the Tiger in Need Theatre), and Eliška Říhová (a student at the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre, Faculty of Performing Arts in Prague, DAMU), whose text, The Farewell Party, became the last premiere of the season.
The Father Watches Over the Daughter by Ondřej Novotný is a surprisingly lyrical text that relies more on mood, hinting at rather than conveying a message (in comparison with the writer’s previous work for the X10 Theatre and others). The entire first half is a description of one afternoon during which the Father and the Daughter go together to “the brook, the playground, and to have an ice-cream” and finally stop at a local pub where they wait out an electricity outage caused by a storm. Later, the Daughter gets lost for a while, but in the end, she is found and both the Father and the Daughter get home safely. Nothing serious happens, there is no sign of any potential conflict, and everything is somehow just glossed over and resolved. A storm threatens the entire afternoon and evening, but eventually hits elsewhere. Similarly, all the clashes are resolved at the end as well, be it with the slow-witted beefy guys in the playground, the former classmates (one is a committed environmentalist, the other a well-travelled man of the world), an ex-girlfriend from a Scout group, the woke ‘good’ guys from the ice-cream shop, or the enigmatic Cyclops. The Cyclops is a mysteriously threatening character, permanently lingering on the edge of the story, who intervenes only once; to bring back the lost Daughter. At first sight, the dialogues between the Father and the caring Mother about the Daughter and the conversations with his elderly, quirky, alcoholic Father are also seemingly futile. The storm does not hit, but still influences the story. Similarly, there is an ever-present undercurrent in the subtext of all these banal conversations and events that suggests the existence of not a conflict per se, but some unease[2] under the mundane surface.
The monologue of the Daughter in the introduction of the second part of the play holds this tension as well. Several years have passed, the Daughter is now a grown-up and she has two sons. Her Mother has died and her Brother has run away from civilization. Her family home is lost; and the garden, with the cherry tree she used to climb, is abandoned. The Daughter looks after the Father (played by the same actor as the Man in the first part), who lives alone in a small rented flat.
In this shorter part of the play, a number of motifs return as refrains. The key motif is the relationship between parents and children. It is discussed not only directly in the question: “are children responsible for their parents” and vice-versa, but also in the conscious and unconscious repetitions of paternal patterns (the Man inherits most of the character traits of his Father, the Daughter has her Mother’s caring nature). Novotný is not explicit, but still it can be said with little exaggeration that what is made heroic in this production are the simple abilities to care and show understanding and the art (or the necessity?) of giving up in time and recognizing the limits of one’s powers. The Brother, on the other hand, is seen in a surprisingly negative way. He takes up a new name, Dancing Cloud, and is radically in opposition to all the ills of the world in terms of society and civilization. Normally, the strategy of escape to a secluded place in the woods to “live in harmony with nature” is perceived with at least some empathy, but his affected pose comes across as ridiculous in comparison with the Daughter’s simple effort to deal with everyday life honestly. She cannot save the Father because she cannot stop time and his progressive dementia, but at least she is there ready to help as much as she can.
Novotný’s text is anti-illusionary, and in addition to the dialogues, it also includes many lines in the third person: the characters often describe what they are doing and thinking, which is very often in contradiction to what they tell the other characters or how they behave. It enhances the feeling that there is a conflict hidden behind the words and the outer actions. Jan Frič further emphasized this aspect by allocating some of the descriptive lines to different speakers. From time to time he softly highlights the conflict between the men’s romantic world (with references to camping, scouting, and the need to solve ‘the fundamental questions’ of the life) and the more pragmatic and practical world of women with their seemingly mundane, but actually much more relevant, problems.
At the New Scene of the National Theatre, the audience can watch the performance from two sides of the stage. In the middle, there is a “street” defined on one side by a large projection screen and on the other by wooden benches around a campfire. Apart from a trash bin, the most distinct component of the set is the electricity pole with tourist signs and a statuette of Jesus. Under the projection screen, the designer Veronika Lazorčáková is drawing in real time and the images are projected onto the screen. In the first part, despite being only the subject of other characters’ narratives, she accompanies the story as the Daughter by illustrating the actions on the stage. She also provides a commentary, as if from a child’s perspective, when adding frequently repeated words from the lines to her illustrations. The disadvantage of this directorial and scenographic concept is that it disturbs the concentration of the audience somewhat. It is difficult to simultaneously focus fully on what is happening on the stage and on the screen.
Just as with Vassa, in The Father Watches Over the Daughter, Jan Frič uses a more ‘sophisticated and refined’ directorial style. In comparison with his previous production of Emil Hakl’s Visit[3], Frič focuses more on the text and its ability to communicate, and less on directorial ‘extravaganza’. It can even be argued that Frič has moved away from creating a theatrical event towards emphasizing a dialogue between the production and the text. While focusing on the text, Frič doesn’t merely transfer the text onto the stage, but together with the dramaturge Jan Tošovský, he engages in a dialogue with the text by sometimes standing in its way and by slightly changing its original structure. For example, several lines were added to the final scene and the production finishes a little ironically with this sentence: “Say a prayer, have a wee, and off to bed” (accompanied by a guitar riff played by all the protagonists). Importantly, however, it is only a slight irony. It is a good thing that Frič has lost his former stubborn provocativeness, and his direction newly shows empathy (not sentiment). The protagonists of Vassa are quite hideous, cold, and insensitive, and yet they are not portrayed as mere beasts. In the same way, the characters in The Father Watches Over the Daughter can be generally seen as very strange and traumatized losers, but in the end, each of them has their share of truth. At the same time, Frič does not entirely lose his typical playfulness and ironic style (but he does not base his direction solely on this approach). Therefore, in The Father Watches Over the Daughter there are several nods to the audience: not only in the last line of the play, but, for instance, also in the replacement of the campfire by videos of fire on the actors’ mobile phones.
Today, Jan Frič can be definitely praised for his work with the actors. He leads them to a collective performance without solos and exhibitionism. Attention is paid evenly to everybody, and it was also a pleasure to view the actors who didn’t have speaking parts. They were not put to one side, they didn’t slack off, but acted together in the interest of the whole. It might seem normal and it should be like that, but it is not all that common.

consolation? The second text that was created as part of the New Drama Studio project was The Farewell Party by Eliška Říhová, who also directed the production at the New Scene of the National Theatre (allegedly it was not planned for Říhová to direct the production as well). Like Novotný, she also deals with generational conflicts and the relationship between parents and children. There is even the same motif of inheritance, but this time it is much more specific than mere character traits. The play focuses on family traditions, symbolized here by a favourite Sunday dish – a goose[4]. Figuratively speaking, the festive dish represents everything the parents and ancestors (un)consciously burden us with and leave for us in both a material and imaginary sense.
The representatives of the older generation, called “Carriers”, cherish the unvarying habits and material possessions they are about to hand over to their son Peter, who is expected to carry them on and later hand them over to the next generation. It is a circle that cannot be interrupted (“Society is based on repetition, not innovation.”). Peter, however, is more up-to-date and thus despite taking over, he is not able to bear the burden and puts it down. As one of the Carriers says: “Once you put it down, you don’t want to lift it up again and carry it all the time!” Peter decides not stay in the flat he received from his parents (it both is and is not part of the symbolic heritage) – he is obviously “not carrying” – and offers the flat to three flatmates: Bára, Štěpán, and Agáta. When he is handing over the flat to them, he meticulously lists all its furnishings in a pedantic manner (he resembles his father after all). Three years pass and the flatmates find a frozen goose in the freezer. They do not know what to do with it. As members of the young generation, they tend towards vegetarianism. They remember the Sunday rituals of their parents and grandparents (especially Agáta who apparently comes from a village or a small town), but they have become alienated from them long since. Roasting a goose is out of the question (they do not even know how), throwing it away is not ecological, and they can’t even manage to return it to the Carriers, who unexpectedly come to visit their son (“Thank you, no. I have been carrying all my life. Now it is time for someone else to do it.”). They decide to bury the goose in a park and give it a proper funeral with music, speeches, and refreshments instead of just putting it in the ground at night. The flatmates themselves admit that they are creating a new tradition. (Their previous existence, however, is also influenced by traditions such as their regular toasts with Carpathian brandy when they meet, but they do not acknowledge it.) The final part of the text is focused on Peter, who is now searching for the frozen goose that he put away a long time ago and has actually started to miss.
The Farwell Party is in fact a model drama written in the style of the 1960s Czech drama (and not only Czech). In the interest of one idea (and its variation), the stage is full of personas without their own character, who only represent typical social groups. There is no real conflict development, only a clash of ideas. Everything is controlled by the author; who does not even hide the fact that everything is happening only because she wants it to happen. Very typical also is the way language is used in the play. The Carriers in the prologue use a very stylized way of speaking based on nursery rhymes and idioms about various kinds of carrying. When they use dialogue, their lines are affected and consist of pearls of wisdom and maxims in the style of Václav Havel’s Garden Party. In contrast, the flatmates’ way of speaking is very contemporary: they use Anglicism, are abrupt and often speak in unfinished phrases. It is difficult to say whether the inspiration from the 1960s is conscious or not as Eliška Říhová doesn’t mention it at all. These associations come to the minds of knowledgeable spectators immediately and thus one might have the feeling that they are watching something they’ve already seen and something that is actually very old in its form.
In the prologue and the first part of the play, there is a huge cube covered by egg cartons on the stage of the New Scene. The Carriers are dressed in uniform, coloured, knitted formal suits (including jackets and ties; when they come to visit the flatmates, they even wear knitted masks). They walk and run very quickly around the cube and those in the audience who want to hear everything they are saying need to do the same. Nothing can be heard through the cube as the sound is blocked by the egg cartons. When Peter ‘hands over’ the flat, the cube opens and reveals various platforms around its sides that designate the inner space of the flat. The majority of the audience can sit on these uncomfortable platforms and listen to the dialogues between the flatmates. In the final scene, only a few words are said, and the audience have to move again for the curtain call, this time into the auditorium.
The audience are manipulated around. When they enter, they are asked by the so-called Descendants and Ancestors to take a random antique object with them. It seems like a good way of drawing the audience immediately into the game. However, those who choose to take a heavy object might start to regret their choice, as they have to hold it for a long time while standing around the cube. It is difficult to know where to put the objects during the sequence of the production that takes place in the flat so that they don’t get in the way. Before leaving the stage in the last scene, the Descendants and Ancestors tell the audience to place the objects on the almost empty stage. It is an engaging image, but it is achieved by a series of not entirely practical steps. This can be applied to the entire production. There are many good ideas, but there is always something extra or something is missing. In addition, the guest actors Marek Daniel and Martina Preissová in the role of Hosts do not always manage to use the stylized speech fluently, and thus its artificiality comes to the fore. The flatmates – Veronika Lazorčáková, Štěpán Lustyk and Anna Fialová – do a better job, but also in their lines there are sometimes caesuras and moments when the characters speak only because the playwright wants them to.
The Farwell Party is a result of a studio project, and it should be presented as such. It is not fair, or sensible, to have Eliška Říhová, who is still only in the last year of her studies, thrown directly into the National Theatre production process and to be compared with much more experienced directors, let alone with the direction of her own text. If the National Theatre wants to have a workshop for playwrights, they should consider having a similar programme for directors as well. They should cooperate with them in a team without requiring a guaranteed success immediately.

beauties Unlike Jan Frič, who focused on a newly rediscovered text (presented in a not well-known first version), and Eliška Říhová, who presented her own text, Daniela Špinar decided to use two classical texts in her farewell theatre season: a horror fairy-tale by František Hrubín Beauty and the Beast and Shakespeare’s relationship comedy Much Ado About Nothing. In the context of her directorial work, they are not surprising choices as Špinar in the last couple of years has specialized in ‘large productions’ of classical works (Manon Lescaut, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pride and Prejudice, Lunch at Wittgenstein, The Idiot), only very rarely did she direct smaller projects such as Frailty, Thy Name is Woman or For Beauty. What is surprising, however, given the heated atmosphere of the beginning of the theatre season and various publically presented debates about the meaning of theatre and theatre processes, is how mainstream (in terms of both form and ideas) the productions actually are. It should not be forgotten though that the 2021/2022 season included some productions planned for the previous, Covid-decimated season, and their preparation had started even before Daniela Špinar announced her decision to leave the National Theatre. Yet, one would expect a bolder directorial gesture, even as a last minute addition.
Beauty and the Beast by František Hrubín was probably planned as a family-friendly production. A well-known fairy-tale presented in the legendary historical building of the National Theatre and the creative team (including Daniela Špinar) are definitely a combination that should attract an audience willing to satisfy their cultural and social needs. I am being only slightly ironic here, since that really is one of the functions and roles of the National Theatre. Thus, it is very interesting to see how the production of Beauty and the Beast changed between its premiere in January and its rerun in June. A twenty-minute intermission was added without actually needing the extra time for changing the set. It is apparently a way of helping the less experienced theatregoers to understand and enjoy the production, and perhaps even to give them time to visit the foundation stones of the National Theatre, which is a ritual inseparably connected to visiting the historical building. In the theatre programme, there is an added warning, “Loud sound effects and a stroboscope are used in the production.” There is also a recommendation that the production is not suitable for spectators younger than 10 years old. These additions are interconnected and related to the very unique portrayal of the Beast as performed by David Prachař. The sound designer, Michal Cáb, created a special glove that creates a loud sound effect resembling thunder when the actor waves it in the air. I fully understand that a masked creature on stilts, followed by a group of assistants dressed in full-body black leotards, who can command thunder and lightning, can scare the audience even when they are older than ten. When the Father, Vladislav Beneš, who acts his role in the best tradition of television fairy-tales, comes into the Beast’s domain without warning, the atmosphere is very scary. Špinar made Hrubín’s merchant the owner of a circus in decline.[5] The production opens with a dance number where dancers, acrobats, clowns, are accompanied by an old-fashioned circus orchestra. The sisters of Beauty, Gábinka and Málinka, are Siamese twins, their suitor, Mr. Filipán, is a melancholic comedian in a bowler hat, plus there is Beauty, an innocent, pure, and kind girl resembling a fairy-tale Cinderella.
Unfortunately, the production is split into these two dimensions. On one hand, there is the poetic illusion of mundane romanticism, and on the other hand, there is the raw and brutal world of the Beast. The first takes place in the proscenium in front of the velvet curtain, it is full of colours, excitement, and often intentionally cheesy humour, and – I am afraid unintentionally – cheap pathos. The other takes place at the back of the stage in front of a white wall with blotches of blood, it is sharp, blunt, noisy, and seemingly numb. (It is not necessary to add that in the end, it is actually the other way around, the world “in front of the curtain” is beastly and unfeeling.)
Both worlds unfortunately remain separated; they exhaust themselves and do not have the potential to “hold” the entire production. Despite employing new circus artists from the Losers Cirque Company, the circus is a mere imitation that is closer to the romantic novel Circus Humberto by Eduard Bass than to real circus history. In addition, it forces the actors (Pavlína Štorková, Magdalena Borová, or Filip Kaňkovský) to use pseudo-comical clichés. It might be poetic, or resemble the poetic tradition of circus enchantment from the circus-inspired paintings by František Tichý, but in combination with the songs by Beauty, where the normally very good and flexible Anna Fialová is forced into the dull, compassionate pose of a good girl, the clichés, pathos, and occasional grimacing are simply just too much.
The opposite should be the cold and frightening world of the Beast: a large space filled by scary noise, a deformed voice, and a “weird mysterious atmosphere” represented by an actor on stilts and dark figures in black. However, what might scare the children in the audience (and why a warning was added into the programme), does not work for the more experienced spectators who clearly see that the creators just became fascinated by one technical idea that actually forces David Prachař, normally a very flexible actor, into a single pose as a creature moving strenuously around the stage and waving his hand to exhaustion in order to create the desired scary effect. Once Beauty’s love discharges the Beast of all the technical aids, David Prachař starts to speak without the microphone and Anna Fialová reacts to what she hears and stops posing, suddenly something genuine occurs for a while on stage. The actors react to the situation. They do not merely serve a directorial idea, a concept that originally seemed fantastic, but they act. One must ask whether the poetical and technical extras are actually necessary. Even without amplification, Prachař manages to deliver the dialogue of the Beast and the Voice of the animal inside (his inner self) in an equally scary and pressing manner. There is sadness and melancholy, and also the often-mentioned poetics.
It is a pity that the director became so influenced by technical ideas that ultimately do not work that well, and that the dramaturge did not intervene by providing critical feedback that would lead to a more balanced result. The directorial and dramaturgical decision not to make the Beast younger and thus to make Beauty overcome not only all the obstacles but also a clear age difference, offers a fascinating new interpretative key to Hrubín’s motive of hidden beauty.

… and animals If the leitmotif of the reflection of Beauty and the Beast is the complaint that the actors are not given enough freedom and are forced to serve the concept, in Much Ado About Nothing, it is the other way around. The unifying main idea of this production seems to be ‘laissez-faire’. In an interview published by Mladá Fronta Dnes one day before the premiere, Daniela Špinar herself mentioned that “I became much more relaxed and I stopped bearing the burden of responsibility for the final outcome. The rehearsals were really fun, the actors are a great team, and I dared to try absolutely everything in this production. Including all my fetishes. I think the critics will go wild.” In an annotation from the play’s translator, Jiří Josek writes that in Shakespeare’s times the word “nothing” had several meanings. The first, obvious meaning is just ‘nothing’ (It is no big deal). Phonetically, in the original Shakespearean pronunciation, the word could have been the same as ‘noting’, which means to follow, to spy on somebody. In addition, in the Elizabethan times men’s genitalia was referred to as ‘all’, and women’s as ‘nothing’. All these meanings are more than present in Špinar’s production. Instead of the traditional dark back curtain, the stage is decorated with a curtain in greyish pink. The stage is empty for a long time, and the only accessories are iron numbers from one to twelve. Later on, café tables and chairs are added and the stage is illuminated by a large, heart-shaped disco-ball. In the final scene, which is slightly mysterious because of the resurrection of ‘the dead’ Helena, a view of the backstage with a large reflector is revealed. The scenery is simple, but effective. The numbers evoke the signs used by the police investigators to mark a crime scene, but ironically, the numbers also help to introduce the characters in the beginning of the play. When placed on the tables, the numbers create a speed-dating event. They very nicely complement the situations because both making acquaintances and an investigation are part of the plot. The set not only serves the drama, but it adds fun. Thus we see more than once a character trying to find their way out through the curtain, commenting on it and also listening to the comments by others. It is funny for the first time, for the second time, but not for the tenth time…
This repetition and excess of everything, especially the constant making of fun harms the production. Of course, Shakespeare wrote a light (sometimes even titillating) comedy, and yes, there are noblemen, lovers, and criminals of all types, and also clowns and fools, yet, I cannot see any reason why everything should be like “In the best Italy.” as Ursula, played by Alena Štréblová, repeatedly says. These added lines metaphorically mirror Špinar’s direction (or lack of direction). What is the meaning of this generalized image of Italy? Is this a country of passion, of choleric and jealous arguments, rows and southern ravings? And of course, there is the Mafia. In the opening scene, Don Pedro, waving a pistol around, as his companions burst onto the stage. They resemble more the entourage of a local drug boss rather than an aristocratic court. Leonato is an alcoholic, Ursula is a nymphomaniac in a leather pirate costume, and Hera is an asthmatic… In addition, there are two golden cupids with curly hair, i.e. two Shakespearean fools with comical roles as the guardians, whom the director allows to walk around the stage freely in a partly improvised manner for the entire duration of the production. The only point of stability is Francisca (Lucie Brychtová) who remains an uninvolved observer accompanying the events with excellently performed songs. When she finally intervenes in a key moment of the play, she performs a fantastic comic number with perfect timing. The crucial story of Hera, unjustly accused of infidelity, gets lost in all the hustle and frolicking created by this ‘fantastic group’ on the stage, who do not refrain from parodying even president Miloš Zeman or pretending to be pissing on the curtain. The famous quarrels between Benedict and Beatrice, a comical opposite to the chaste and sorely tried love between Claudius and Hera, turn out much better thanks to Robert Mikluš, who sometimes uses very drastic dramatic expressions and comedy to engage the audience. His partner, Lucie Polišenská, relies on more restrained methods. Rather than physical and situational comedy such as hiding behind various props on the stage, she uses witty punch lines.
Even the possible excuse that all the bad and exaggerated jokes are meant ironically as a postmodern references cannot be accepted. What is the reference and what exactly is the target of the irony? What is the possible connection to the content of Much Ado About Nothing? It seems to me that the production is probably meant as a small provocation. Despite not being originally designed to be Daniela Špinar’s last direction at the National Theatre, it clearly uses her typical directorial style. Starting with the positives, Daniela Špinar has always been very good at creating mise en scenes and using the depth and width of the enormous stage for arranging the actors-- she is able to create on a so-called large canvases. For example, even before her work for the National Theatre, Špinar successfully used this skill in the production of Wozzeck at Vinohrady Theatre, in Hamlet at Švandovo Theatre, or in her opera directions (From the House of the Dead or Billy Budd) that she occasionally created for the National Theatre. It is very typical for her to always insist on the style of her direction via strong visual and musical elements that fully serve her directorial intention and are never just a mere decoration. This, however, is also one of the problems: Špinar sometimes gets too distracted by the chosen style, the overall concept, the look of the production, which from time to time goes against the text (especially when her dramaturge is weaker). It is not that unusual, but Špinar’s direction does not connect to the theme of the text (Much Ado About Nothing and Beauty and the Beast), not even as irony or a counterpoint. It seems as if the style was the main intention regardless of all the other elements. Similarly inconsistent is the way Špinar works with the actors, as mentioned above. She is better on the individual level in smaller scale pieces when she gives the actors more freedom to use their natural reactions in dramatic situations and enhance their roles with their own ideas. Špinar studied acting and thus probably knows how to empathize with the actors and she is a creative partner for them. On the other hand, she sometimes gives them too much freedom. Again, she has a tendency to become too enchanted not by her own invention, but by the notorious ‘good idea’ that comes up spontaneously during the rehearsals and is not discarded in time. Such ideas and their variations (or repetitions) are used throughout the entire production and, in the end, disrupt the production from within.
Daniela Špinar is undoubtedly an inspired, passionate, and impulsive director. In an ideal case, she manages to combine all these qualities into a unified whole that is imaginative and stylizes all the theatrical elements well. In other cases, she is sometimes stubborn as a child and insists on ideas and solutions that exhaust themselves. Such passion can be both productive and recklessly destructive.

Maxim Gorky: Vassa Zheleznova, translation Alena Machoninová, adaptation Marta Ljubková and Jan Frič, direction J. Frič, dramaturgy M. Ljubková, set design Dragan Stojčevski, costumes Marek Cpin, music Jakub Kudláč, the National Theatre, premiered 27 October 2021, at the Estates Theatre.

Ondřej Novotný:
The Father Watches Over the Daughter, direction J. Frič, dramaturgy Jan Tošovský, set design and costume design Jana Hauskrechtová, art coach Marek Brožek, sound design Michal Kindernay, lighting design Martin Špetlík, the National Theatre, premiered 17 and 18 February 2022, at the New Scene.

Eliška Říhová: The Farewell Party, direction E. Říhová, dramaturgy M. Ljubková, set design D. Stojčevski, costumes Linda Boráros, music and sound design Jan Burian, lighting design František Fabián, the National Theatre, premiered 2 and 3 June 2022, at the New Scene.

František Hrubín: Beauty and the Beast, direction Daniela Špinar, dramaturgy Ilona Smejkalová, set design Lucia Škandíková, costumes L. Boráros, music Matěj Kroupa, lighting design Karel Šimek, sound design Michal Cáb, choreography Václav Kuneš, the National Theatre, premiered 10 January 2022, at the National Theatre.

William Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing, translation Jiří Josek, adaptation and direction D. Špinar, dramaturgy I. Smejkalová, set design L. Škandíková, costumes L. Boráros, lighting design K. Šimek, music M. Kroupa, the National Theatre, premiered 12 and 13 May 2022, at the Estates Theatre.

published in Svět a divadlo, issue 4, volume 2022
translated by Hana Pavelková


[1]) During anti-German protests in 1920, two years after the foundation of Czechoslovakia, a crowd of people invaded the Estates Theatre, then the Royal German Theatre that had been a German theatre with German actors since 1862. At that time Leopold Kramer was governor there.

[2]) In the text, there are unassigned passages quoting evacuation instructions in case of a natural disaster. In the production, these messages are announced from the loudspeakers attached to the electricity poles. In addition, there is also a character dressed in full protection gear walking around the stage and spraying everything with an unknown disinfectant.

[3]) Emil Hakl, Ilona Smejkalová, Jan Frič: Visit, directed by Jan Frič, National Theatre, 2018.

[4]) To prepare a goose properly is for Eliška Říhová and her generation born in 1994 “an absolutely unimaginable act“. See her text in The National Theatre Drama 2021/2022.

[5]) The creators allegedly thought that a poor merchant would not resonate today with the audience as a symbol of unfortunate decline. Who knows why they think a circus would function better.





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