Richard III

National Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic, 2006
Author: William Shakespeare
Directed by Michal Dočekal

about the production

Richard III is one of the most distinguished and theatrically most appreciative Shakespearean characters. The archetypal study of irrational evil and the ”over-dead-bodies” desire for power inspired not only literature; they became essential in searching for other pathological cases. The last time, Richard III was compared with Hitler – influenced by the character of Richard III, Bertolt Brecht wrote his The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, where the main character is a parallel of Führer.

The mechanism of compensation of one’s own physical illness or disability by fulfilling of excessive power ambitions has been dealt with in world’s drama, and it was strongest in Shakespeare’s Richard III In this tragedy the long-lasting War of the Roses ends, during which the rulers stained in blood reigned, and brutal political crimes caused the Old Testament revenges “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Essence of evil appeared on the peak of the pyramid, embodied in cruel, crippled Richard III, who does not fight for his dynasty any more, but only for himself, he does not murder only the enemies, but also his own blood, and that means the end of the old social order with clear rules. In the closing monologue Richmond, later King Henry VII calls for forgiveness, and, therefore denies the “an eye for an eye” law. The ethics of blood revenge are changed for the ethics of forgiving – a new era comes, and Richard III, with white rose in his coat of arms, paradoxically appears as the “positive” character.

Director Michal Dočekal states: “Richard III should be played by unbelievable actor. Not handsome, nevertheless a man of strange sex appeal, outsider with starry potential.” He offered the title role to a thirtysomething leader of pop group Kryštof, Richard Krajčo. His acting and director’s interpretation give the tragedy new dimension – they emphasize theatricality of Richard’s acting: Richard III is above all an actor and director who, after every bloody step towards the throne, has to win favour of those his power depends on. Already in the opening monologue he uncovers to the audience his plans, which he later applies on the other characters. He comments on each of his acts – until then when he finds himself on the throne.

Once there, Richards loses his audience and his “play” finishes. In his monologues he does not turn to himself as to an actor in a play which he wrote and directed, but as to a deserted man.

Richard III sitting on the throne reminds of an actor sitting in front of a mirror in his dressing room. When taking off his make up, he slowly comes back to authentic, non-theatrical being and his words comment on his own existence. Those who had helped him by being passive, and who had survived the bloody slaughter, understood the horrible mistake of their silence, but it was too late. They may comfort themselves that their silence was not a sign of agreement, nevertheless, it enabled the rule of terror, which is punished by loneliness.

Dočekal´s Richard III is played by a young man fabricating everything in order to gain power, even his physical state. In this theatre of politics this Richard goes further – there are not only false words, statements and promises. They do not have any importance in the materialistic world and they can be easily played with. What may be false in Dočekal´s production is the last sacred institution of the materialistic world – the body and face. And those are presented in the way to have required effect: young but crippled body which rouses feelings of sympathy, is the best thing for the “play” of Richard III. Man has disappeared, what remained is only a knot in the net of instincts and struggles for power.
Ján Šimko



directed by Michal Dočekal
translation: Martin Hilský
dramaturgy: Daria Ullrichová
stage design: David Marek
costume design: Zuzana Krejzková
music: Michal Novinski, Jan P. Muchow
characters and cast:
Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III: Richard Krajčo, Duke of Clarens, his brother: Saša Rašilov, Edward IV, King, his brother: Igor Bareš, Duchess of York, their mother: Iva Janžurová,  Lord Hastings. lord Chamberlain: Jiří Štepnička, Earl of Derby: Vladislav Beneš, Queen Elizabeth: Jana Preissová, her brother: Ladislav Mrkvička, Marquis Doreset, her son: Michal Slaný, Queen Margaret: Kateřina Burianová, Duke of Buckingham: David Prachař, Sir William Catesby: David Matásek, Sir Robert Ratcliffe: Petr Motloch, Lady Anne: Sabina Králová, John Morton, Archbishop of Ely: Oldřich Vlček, Dr. Shaa, sMayor of London: Petr Pelzer, Dighton, a murderer: Milan Stehlík, Forrest, a murderer: Alexej Pyško, Sir Robert Brakenbury: Karel Pospíšil, Priest: Rudolf Stärz, Henry Tudor, Earl Richmond, later King Henry VII: Jan Dolanský


Michal Dočekal (1965)
In 1991 – 1994 he attracted attention as the director of the Kašpar Theatre Ensemble where he directed Kleist´s Katynka (Kätchen von Heilbronn) (1992), Doña Juana based on the play by Tirso de Molina (1993), Goethe’s Clavigo and others. In 1994 – 2002 he acted as artistic director who created a generation image of the Theatre of Comedy which became the Theatre of the Year 1996 and was awarded the Alfréd Radok Prize. He directed in several other Czech theatres. For his approach to Tragic History of Doctor Faust (Marlowe) he won the Divadelní Noviny Prize in 2001.

From 2002 he has worked in the National Theatre in Prague as director of Drama Ensemble, but as a director he has worked here since 1994 (Joyce: The Exiles, Beckett: Happy Days, Rostand: Cyrano de Bergerac, S. Kane: 4. 48 Psychosis, Mastrosimone: Extremities). Within The Project of Bilingual Theatre he directed (in co-production with Teatro di Roma) Bassetti´s The Seller of Souls (2005).

In 2004 he was awarded The Czech Literary Foundation Award for the Bouda Project, 2003, within which the Drama Ensemble under his leadership prepared three Czech premieres of contemporary world’s dramatists during three weeks. In the same year in Italian Pescaro he won the International Award of Ernesto Flaian for the creative act for the National Theatre and opened attitude to European influences.  Michal Dočekal as well as the National Theatre Ensemble will perform at the Divadelná Nitra for the first time in its history.



Materials available

Script of the production: EN

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