Studio Hrdinu, Prague, Czech Republic, 2017
Author: David Zábranský
Directed by Kamila Polívková
about the production
The Studio Hrdinů collective, whose home is in the premises of the Trade Fair Palace in Prague, has consistently focused on creative projects made by a stable circle of collaborating directors since it was founded in 2012. Although it is still relatively young, it became one of the most recognized Czech stages – among other things, thanks to its systematic engagement with new authors and texts. Writer David Zábranský holds the Magnesia Litera prize from 2007 in the category ‘Discovery of the Year’ for his first work, A Weakness for Every Other Beach. For his most recent novel, Martin Juhás, or Czechoslovakia, he was nominated for the same prize in the category ‘Book of the Year 2016’.
He wrote his theatrical debut at the commission of Studio Hrdinů, specifically of director Kamila Polívková and actor and trained carpenter Stanislav Majer, who regularly collaborates with the director since their recent engagement with the Komedie Theatre. All three authors also become characters in the text of this distinctive generational statement about the homeland.
What is the Czech Republic? Where does the Czech Republic begin, and where does it end? Who wants to live in the Czech Republic? Who lives here, and why? Who or what is to be blamed for the current antipathy of Majer and those like him towards the Czech Republic? Is it perhaps the fault of the current Czech president? In a monologue written in the form of layers of sarcastic commentary à la Thomas Bernhard, the author spares none of those whom he takes aim at, but also none of those involved, himself included. He thematises the ‘bad mood’ that has come to permeate Czech society in the re- cent years. He begins the investigation of its causes by undertaking to find a new meaning for the slightly artificial or at best outdated term ‘homeland’. Besides a grotesque grin, his effort also carries a certain pathos or enthusiasm of the lover of ‘returns’ and seekers of roots that are so numerous especially in the generation of Majer, Zábranský, Polívková and their like. This generation experienced its lyrical age in 1989 and the ensuing idealistic 90s. Soaked with revolutionary sentiments that were embodied by President Václav Havel and his idealistic philosophy of the state, it felt part of the great course of history at whose end stood the prospect of a better society. It held on to its ideals until recently. As it turned out, even artists began realising that life is somewhere else, that all ideals have vanished in the prose of everyday life, that society has come to be ruled by entirely pragmatic motivations. And non-idealists, at whom idealists like Majer and the like used to look down, have risen to power and now lead the homeland in a direction with which the idealists are at odds, but which they can do nothing about.
The position of people like Zábranský, Majer and Polívková contains a paradox – they are capable of naming social problems in all their complexity, but are unable to bring about real change. That may well be an ideal position for a good comedy that aptly glosses the present state of (among other things) the Czech homeland, and which offers a blend of political theatre and cultivated text, as well as a grotesque portrait of an artist who strives to become involved in or at least express himself on issues no less important than the state of society and its causes. Zábranský, with Majer and Polívková, know this position very well and are able to describe it very lively on stage. Their piece projects the image of a person who, all the while assuming a critical stance towards the state of his homeland, is nevertheless fond of it, which lends a certain humaneness to a commentary on the present state of the country.
This performance earned Stanislav Majer the Theatre Critics Award for Best Male Actor in 2016. This performance earned Stanislav Majer first place in the internet-based audience survey by i-divadlo.cz, in the category of Best Male Actor in 2016.
Majer’s gestures and tone of voice subtly ironize Zábranský’s typical manner of expression, and the actor’s chest, which is left exposed long enough for all women to admire and all men to be jealous of, is equally a reference to the writer’s sophisticated intellectual exhibitionism as well as to the TV popularity of Stanislav Majer.
Marie Reslová, Hospodářské noviny, 19. 9. 2016
The author fortunately lightens his obsession with question of the homeland and national identity, he clouds and blurs with a humorous detachment, as well as by means of thorough work with composition and language.
Saša Hrbotický, Aktualne.cz, 20. 9. 2016
Stanislav Majer’s performance is great: with moderate means, he keeps the attention of the audience and mines very entertaining moments even out of apparently ordinary lines. Director Polívková proceeds in a comparably simple but purposeful manner.
Vladimír Mikulka, Divadelní noviny, 17. 10. 2016
directed by Kamila Polívková
dramaturgy: Jan Horák
costumes: Adriana Černá
music: Ivan Acher
setting and light design: Antonín Šilar
assistant director: Ondřej Štefaňák
assistants for setting: Františka Králíková, Mariana Montenero, František Průša
cast: Stanislav Majer, Ľudia typu Majer / People like Majer
Kamila Polívková (1975) is a costume artist, scenographer, director. In 2004 – 2012, she worked at the Prague Chamber Theatre (Komedie Theatre) under the guidance of director Dušan D. Pařízek, with whom she regularly collaborates in German-speaking countries (Salzburger Festspiele, Deutsches Theater Berlin, Staatsschauspiel Dresden, Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Burghteater Wien and elsewhere). Her first theatrical project Cassia Flowers, presented in Brno in 2009, was followed by her directorial debut in the Prague Chamber Theatre, an adaptation of Thomas Brussig’s novel Heroes Like Us, Ödöna von Horváth’s play Faith, Love, Hope, and the plays SAM by author Katharina Schmitt. Presently, she works as a director at Studio Hrdinů (The Oprichnik’s Day, Milena’s Recipes, Animal Kingdom, Skugga Baldur, Actor and Carpenter Majer Speaks Of the State of His Homeland). Kamila Polívková was nominated for the Alfréd Radok Prize for the category Scenographer of the Year 2009, for the category Talent of the Year 2010, as well as for the Czech Lion Prize for the Best Artistic Contribution in 2012 for the film Garbage, The City and Death.
video of the production: yes
script of the production: CZ
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