Leonce and Lena

Slovak National Theatre – Drama, Bratislava, 2008
Author: Georg Büchner
Directed by Martin Čičvák

about the production

Leonce and Lena – a multi-meaning mixture of a fable, satire and humour, which looked unconventionally already in the time of its creation, provokes theatre artists even today and encourages to explain the getting mature in its own way. And not only the adolescent rebirth of the main characters but also the revival of artistic processes. And personal artistic maturing. In his play Büchner emphasized the charm of theatralization and the affirmation of theatre as a parallel reality to the life.

Director Martin Čičvák accepted the chances the text offered to him. He translated the fairy tale from the life and used for it such expressive means he, as a young director searching for own theatrical code, gradually comes across to. At the Divadelná Nitra we have had an opportunity to watch his professional growing- up. After his own adaptation of Carrol´s Alice, the production of Schimmelpfennig´s Arabian Night and Klimáček´s version of the life of Dr. Gustáv Husák, we can see him for the fourth time. Typically – with the fairy-tale dramatic jewel by Georg Büchner –  Leonce and Lena.

The interpretation of actors of the Slovak National Theatre brings to life quite an ordinary story of “princes” and “princesses” whose crowns do not fit them, who look on the life as if they saw it for the first time waiting for their “turn”. Their sentences sound infantile and nihilistic at the same time. It is a fairy tale about getting mature and the constant adolescence refusing the rules of adulthood. Leonce and Lena are forced to enter the world of adults, but what “human creations” wait for them there? Only when we realize the attitudes and opinions represented by the king, his advisers, courtiers and the nation, we find out what Leonce and Lena want to escape from. Despite this, they do not escape in the end. They put a “paper” crown on their heads and open another imaginary circle of their lives. Watching them we cannot avoid the question: What will the world look like when Leonce and Lena seize power? Will they handle the power? Won’t they become only copies of their parents? Won´t they become only marionettes led by strict rules of society?

On the vibrant stage by Tomáš Ciller, in a narrow cut-out of reality, their thoughts are “projected” and their coincidental meetings under the tree of knowledge are as if directed by destiny. For all the time the production balances on the edge of exceeding playfulness and philosophy of power which is far away from the laugh. Leonce and Lena is one of those productions of the previous season (not only at the Slovak National Theatre) which is fresh, light and it looks on theatre art and art of life with a slight objective irony.

Vladislava Fekete


translation: Ján Rozner
adaptation and direction: Martin Čičvák
dramaturgy: Martin Kubran
stage design: Tom Ciller
costume design: Marija Havran
music: Peter Kofroň
characters and cast: King Peter: Emil Horváth; Prince Leonce: Ľuboš Kostelný; Princess Lena: Diana Mórová; Valerio: Robert Roth; Nursemaid: Zuzana Fialová; Region counsellor: Ján Gallovič; President: Oldo Hlaváček; Court preacher: Leopold Haverl; Teacher: Vladimír Obšil; Rosetta: Gabriela Dzuríková; Important citizen 1: Alexander Bárta; Important citizen 2: Branislav Bystriansky


Martin Čičvák (1975)
A graduate of the JAMU in Brno. During his studies he staged: A. Strindberg: Miss Julie, Molière: Tartuffe, B. Brecht: Baal, Sonia the Agent (own text), Beaumarachais, Voltaire, Turrini: Figaro´s Wedding, G. Stein: The World around Susan B. His other text, Frankie is OK, Peggy is Fine and the House is Cool, was the first Slovak play that entered British stages (Grace Theatre, London), in 1997 it was presented at the Divadelná Nitra, directed by Mišo Hatina. There were also other Čičvák´s productions presented at the Divadelná Nitra: Schimmelpfennig´s Arabian Night (2004) and Dr. Gustáv Husák, Prisoner of Presidents – President of Prisoners (2007) after the text by Viliam Klimáček. For his works he received several prizes – Czech Alfréd Radok Prize in 2000 as the Talent of the Year and the DOSKY Award 2003/2004 for his production of Schimmelpfenning´s Arabian Night.