Fernando Krapp Wrote Me a Letter

The Theatre On the Balustrade, Prague, Czech Republic, 1993
Author: Tankred Dorst
direction: Petr Lébl

about the production

A theatre program will let you know how quickly time passes: Miguel de Unamuno published his prose Nada menos que todo un hombre in 1921 as one of three exemplary novels. It was published in Czech under the heading of The Whole Man in 1933 and in 1970, Tankred Dorst bought a copy of its German edition at a second hand bookshop in Pilsen. He dramatized it under the name of Fernando Krapp hat mir diesen Brief geschrieben in 1991.

A tiny book of barely forty pages is indeed exemplary and ideal for dramatization. Considering its small size, the plot making headway is well developed, and the conflict in it becomes tightly entangled by the action of just three characters creating the conventional and yet, uncommon eternal triangle. The narration, somewhat old-fashioned, has the nature of a report rendered with engagement and yet, free {rom bias and the author's pretence to have penetrated all the niches of human soul and its futile quest of a soul mate. This crossword puzzle has no solution. One is left with an eternal mystery of human relations and the automotion of mutual annihilation.

In fact, Lébl has taken the two men of letters at their word: the three characters play drama, they play it on one another and also ruin the play. Can such play and drama be taken dead serious? Where, in fact, are its limits?

Time flies in theatre: barely twenty minutes elapse from the moment of delivering a letter which Krapp wrote to Juliet on occasion of the birth of her son whom he had conceived. One ceremony follows another: a wedding party, a child is born, death. And it is the bells clanging and camera release clicking on such and other key occasions in man's coexistence.

It seems that there is more action than talking in this production. At any rate, through the montage and encounter of the audible and the visible new meanings are generated just like in a text­ book. And there are continuously things worth seeing.

Milan Lukeš PLAY FOR TRUTH (The World and Theatre 9-10 / 92)


direction: Petr Lébl
translation: Ondrej Černý
music: Richard Wágner, Wojciech Kilar
costumes: Katerina Štetková
set: William Novák
choreography: Antonín Hodek
dramaturgy: Vlasta Smoláková
cast: Bořivoj Navrátil, Jorga Kotrbová, Martin Myšička, Marie Fišerová, Irena Svobodová