Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre to Reprise AUDIENCE in September

The production celebrates the legacy of Vaclav Havel as The Czech Republic takes over the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre to Reprise AUDIENCE in September

 

Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre will reprise its 2021 marionette production of "Audience" by Vaclav Havel, translated and directed by Vit Horejs, September 1 to 3 at 7:30 pm and September 4 at 3:00 pm at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, Manhattan. The production celebrates the legacy of Vaclav Havel as The Czech Republic takes over the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

This production is presented by Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre in collaboration with Vaclav Havel Library Foundation. $20 tickets ($14 seniors & students) include $3 donation toward Ukrainian humanitarian relief through People In Need, a Czech NGO (https://www.peopleinneed.net/).  For info and tickets, go to https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2187468®id=6&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Faudiencebyhavel.brownpapertickets.com?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1.

The production will also be presented in Maine on September 30 and October 1, 2022 at Colby College's Conference, Havel and Our Crisis, a four-day event dedicated to playwright-president Vaclav Havel, his legacy, and its implications for navigating our current domestic and international political, social, and cultural crisis.

"Audience," a dark comedy of spying in a brewery, is staged with live projected closeups of puppets from security cameras in order to suggest surveillance. In the last decade, such use of video has been employed to adapt marionette theater for large houses. The production's concept is by Vit Horejs and Theresa Linnihan, who act the play together.

Havel's classic autobiographical play follows Ferdinand Vanek, a distinguished playwright forced to perform manual labor in a brewery because his writings have been banned by the Communist regime. He is repeatedly called into the bleak office of his boss, the brewmaster, who regales him with irksome, circular monologues, washing them down with endless rounds of beer. Tiresome bureaucracy and constant fear under Communism have driven this hapless boss to alcoholism and fits of rage and despair, which are often turned against his inferiors. The writer must endure a delicate game of cat and mouse -- pointless chat, clumsy interrogation and flattery -- with implied threats of dire consequences such as the loss of even his menial job or imprisonment. One way out of his predicament is for Vanek to help his boss by supplying weekly reports on himself. The playwright refuses, further offending his superior.

The play reflects on the time when Havel had to work in a brewery as penance for writing critically of the Czechoslovak communist government. He ultimately went from prison to the castle, becoming president of Czechoslovakia.

Since the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the country came a long way-in July of this year, the Czech Republic took over from France at the helm of the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). Its priorities at the EU helm will be the refugee crisis, aid to Ukraine, energy security, defense reinforcement and resilience of the European economy.

Vit Horejs plays Vanek and Theresa Linnihan plays the Brewmaster. Production design is by Alan Barnes Netherton. Marionettes are by Milos Kasal and Jakub "Kuba" Krejci. Costumes and the Vanek marionette are by Theresa Linnihan. Producer is Bonnie Sue Stein/GOH Productions.

The piece previewed in June 2021 at Bohemian National Hall as part of the Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival. John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards, writing in Thinking Theater NYC, mused: "Florida's recent (and likely unconstitutional) legislation demanding documentation of student and faculty political beliefs at public colleges and universities comes to mind when one thinks about how 'Audience' continues to resonate powerfully across national and temporal boundaries. CAMT revives this still vital play with humor, empathy, artistry, and invention." Another unfortunate parallel gives the play added poignancy: Havel was banned by a government brought to power by the Soviet tanks rolling into his country in 1968 and unbelievably, we are witnessing the shock of the Russian Army attacking Ukraine.

Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) was a playwright, essayist, political dissident, and, after 1989, president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. His first full-length play performed in public, "The Garden Party" (1963), won him international acclaim. Soon after its premiere came his well-known "The Memorandum" (1965) which was produced in 1968 by Joseph Papp at The Public Theater in New York, earning Havel the first of his three Obie Awards and helping to establish his name in the US. During the repressive period that followed the 1968 Prague Spring, communist authorities forbade the publication and performance of Havel's works. He refused to be silenced and became an outspoken human rights advocate. He transformed his experience of working odd jobs into the so-called "Vanek Trilogy" (named after Ferdinand Vanek, a stand-in for Havel), which premiered clandestinely in the author's living room, and three screenplays which circulated in samizdat throughout Czechoslovakia. Havel's reputation as a leading dissident crystallized in January 1977 with the publication of the Charter 77, a Czechoslovak manifesto that called on the government to honor its human rights commitments under the Helsinki Accords. Havel was arrested many times throughout the remainder of Communism for alleged anti-state activities and sentenced to over four years in prison. His seminal essay, "The Power of the Powerless" (1978), had a profound impact on dissident and human rights movements worldwide.

Vit Horejs was born in Prague and escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia in 1978. In 1990, with fellow émigrés, he founded Czechoslovak American Marionette Theater (CAMT) in New York. He has translated, written, adapted, and directed over two dozen marionette plays for CAMT. He is a resident artist at La MaMa Theater and has performed on stage, in films, and on TV. His published works include "Twelve Iron Sandals" (1985), "Pig and Bear" (1989), and "Faust" (1993). He co-produced "Faust on a String," an award-winning documentary about Czech puppetry, and wrote the lead essay for Czecho-Slovak-American Puppetry (GOH Productions, 1994). Horejs has received commission grants from The Henson Foundation, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Foundation for Jewish Culture, Columbia University, and New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2018, he received the Czechoslovak Society for Arts and Sciences (SVU) Award in recognition of his lifetime achievement in fostering the art form of Czech and Slovak puppetry. In 1989, Mr. Horejš and Bonnie Sue Stein interviewed Havel in Prague, days before he became president, for an article that appeared in the Village Voice January 16, 1990. (https://www.villagevoice.com/2020/06/07/vaclav-havel-the-new-king-of-absurdistan/)

Theresa Linnihan joined the company of Czechoslovak American Marionette Theater (CAMT) in 1996 playing Polonius in their production of Hamlet. For the next two decades she served as a performer, designer, and associate director as the company developed original, provocative productions, re-imagined classics and toured to puppet festivals in Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, and the Czech Republic. In 2016 she relocated to Minneapolis, MN. There, for the past five years she has worked with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater and Barebones Puppets, building and performing for parades and pageants which reflect the sorrows and celebrations of a community that ignited a global call for justice and healing. She is a long standing member of The Puppeteer's Cooperative and recently collaborated with Sara Peattie on an online, animated version of "The Tempest" as well as "The Decameron of Now."

Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (CAMT) is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of traditional and not-so-traditional puppetry. CAMT's first New York season in 1990 featured "Johannes Dokchtor Faust, a Petrifying Puppet Comedye" with a cast of antique Czech puppets discovered by Vít Horejš at the Jan Hus Church, a historic cultural center in the heart of Manhattan's original Czech neighborhood. CAMT's 1994 "Faust" was presented as part of the Obie Award-winning Faust Festival in SoHo. At La MaMa E.T.C., the company has performed "Once There Was a Village;" "The Life and Times of Lee Harvey Oswald"; "Don Juan, or The Wages of Debauchery"; "The Prose of the Transsiberian and of the Little Joan of France;" "Rusalka, the Little Rivermaid;" and "Golem," which was co-produced with La MaMa and later featured in the 1998 Jim Henson International Festival. Other works include "The Very Sad Story of Ethel & Julius, Lovers and Spyes, and about Their Untymelie End while Sitting in a Small Room at the Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y.," "The Bass Saxophone," "Hamlet," "Twelfth Night," Kacha and the Devil," The White Doe, Or, The Piteous Trybulations of the Sufferyng Countess Jenovefa," A Christmas Carol, OY! Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa" and "Twelve Iron Sandals." The company has played in 37 states in the U.S.A. and at international festivals in Poland, Turkey, Pakistan, and the Czech Republic. CAMT is a program of GOH Productions, a nonprofit organization.

During the height of the Pandemic, Vit Horejs, his marionettes and longtime musical collaborators streamed a series of 16 installments of "Naptime Stories for the Absurd Times" from a number of US and worldwide locations, starred in an Onur Tukel feature Film "Scenes From An Empty Church" (release July 2021), and appeared at Carnegie Hall's festival "Voices of Hope" in the Centro Primo Levi film, "The Scandal of the Imagination."

CAMT receives public funds from SBA, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Council Member Carlina Rivera. Additional support comes from Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, and Materials for the Arts. The company offers thanks to Captain Lawrence Brewery for providing the barrel.

 




More Hot Stories For You