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May 24, 2004 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

New Czech Plays in Translation: I

May 24, Shiva Theater, I'm Still Living With a Coat Rack, a Cap, and a Signal Disc, Written by Samuel Koeniggratz, Translated by Alex Zucker


The Public Theater

425 Lafayette Street,

between Astor Pl. & East 4th St., NYC

7:30 pm

Subway: 6 to Astor Place, N, R to 8th Street

Admission free. RSVP at (212) 288-0830 ext. 109


May 24, Shiva Theater

I'm Still Living With a Coat Rack, a Cap, and a Signal Disc (Ještě žiju s věšákem, čepicí a plácačkou)

Written by Samuel Koeniggratz (neé René Levínský)

Translated by Alex Zucker


At the center of the author’s interest is the staff of one railway station in the backwoods of East Bohemia. The text reflects serious matters, one might almost say existential matters, with subtle playfulness and humor.  It is witty, amusing and has a peculiar bitter tone springing from a perfect description of the banalities of everyday life. Representing a new stream in Czech drama -- almost a "reality play" -- the style has been compared to the prose of Bohumil Hrabal, plays of Václav Havel and films of Miloš Forman. Coming just second in the competition for the Alfréd Radok Prize for best original play behind Petr Zelenka’s Tales of Common Insanity, the play was successfully staged by two professional theaters (notably Divadlo v Dlouhé in Prague as the first production after the 2002 August floods). The world premiere of the play was staged by the author’s theater troupe Teddies.


René Levínský (b. 1970) is a mathematician by training and has taught theory of game at the Freiburg University in Germany. The amateur theater group, Teddies, which Levínský founded with several friends in Hradec Kralové, has been a regular contender at the Jirásek’s Hronov theater festival. Since its beginnings in 1991, the group has spread around the country and abroad but has not slowed in bringing to stage original works, including the I’m Still Living… written by Levínský under the pen name Samuel Koeniggratz.



The Czech Center New York, The Immigrants’ Theater Project, and the Theater Institute in Prague continue their cooperation with the third season of staged readings of Czech plays in translation, featuring again the most recent plays by the youngest generation of Czech authors.  The series is hosted by the outstanding Public Theater, founded in 1954 by the late colossus of American theater, Joseph Papp. The organization behind the New York Shakespeare Festival resembles the great European national theater companies in its scope and ambition. The theater played an important role in bringing Czech theater to life in New York with the staging of plays by Václav Havel long before he became the president of the post-1989 Czechoslovakia. For more information about the Public visit www.publictheater.org. Additional support to the series was provided by the Bohemian Hall in Astoria.



May 3, Anspacher Theater

22 Anxiety Street (Stísněná 22)

Written by Iva Volánková

Translated by David Nykl


Are you interested in what your neighbors are doing? In knowing who’s dating whom? Who’s expecting a child? Who ate whose dog? Unexpected stories are assembled from overheard fragments of conversation. Iva Volánková's Stísněná 22 (22 Anxiety Street) is an absolutely unique voice in contemporary Czech theater. This text, written in 2001, is outstanding for its carefully structured composition. It is a real sounding into the souls of characters of several generations who are forced to coexist. The peculiar intimacy of the scenes, its tension, recalls films from around 1960, but at the same time this is a highly contemporary play. It was awarded the Alfréd Radok Prize in a competition for the best original Czech or Slovak play. The National Theater in Prague presented it at its world premiere in 2003, directed by Jiří Pokorný.


Iva Volánková (b. 1964) is an actress with HaDivadlo in Brno, where she had also co-written screenplays for Rubber (Guma), Puzzling Characters (Záhadné povahy), and Daughters of the Nation (Dcery národa).  In 1997 she wrote the screenplays for Afternoon Caprice (Odpolední rozmar) and All the Saints (Všichni svatí), which was awarded the Alfréd Radok Prize for best production of the year.  In 1999 she finished the play The Acquisition of Bliss (Zisk slasti) and a year later the minach trilogy, which was awarded the bronze Alfréd Radok Prize for best production of the year. The minach play was presented in the last season of the staged reading series at the New York Theater Workshop.





June 7, Luesther Theater

The Moment before I Opened the Drawer and Pulled out the Knife (Chvíli předtím, než jsem otevřela zásuvku a vyndala nůž)

Written and translated by Ivana Růžičková


The author characterizes her play as “a commentary on my mental and emotional state induced by the depressive nature of my work and messed up relationships”. It was written in three parts: the first is a monodrama for one female; the second is the conversation of a man and a woman; and, the third is a series of statements and descriptions of feelings and exclamations all related to a woman. All three parts, however, are using the same text with only slight differences. The play was awarded third place in the Alfréd Radok competition for original play in 2002.


Ivana Růžičková (b. 1981) claims the source of her interest in writing plays is the Drama Studio in her hometown of Ústí nad Labem. At the age of 18 she wrote The Play on Somebody Else, which had already reached the finals of the Alfréd Radok Prize competition for best new drama. She then moved to Prague and wrote and hosted a program on theater for a radio station broadcast over the Internet. Her second play, To Destroy Herself, dramatized the author’s experience of a victim of attempted rape. The play was staged by Drama Studio actors in the Prague alternative theater space, Universal NoD. In 2002, the second year into her stay in Toronto, Růžičková wrote the script for The Moment Before I Opened The Drawer ... After an escape from and return to Toronto, she wrote her English-only play As Usual (2003) as a “farewell” to her ‘Canadian period’. After her return to Prague she received a residency in Australia for young playwrights.



June 21, Luesther Theater

Dad Scores (Taťka střílí góly)

Written by Jiří Pokorný

Translated by David Short


Pokorný’s plays ride on the contemporary wave of coolness and capture above all an unadorned, very authentic sense of reality in the Czech theater. Topical themes turn these texts into truly incandescent socially critical plays. In “Dad” a permanent social neurosis in inter-personal relationships issues into aggression and force. The action revolves slowly, from nothing, the serious theme of the play (permanent interpersonal tension) on the surface only imperceptibly percolates through the basic genre situation; key moments make a muffled or comic impact. In 1997 Pokorný won with this play the main prize in the Alfréd Radok competition for best original play.


Jiří Pokorný (b. 1967) is a playwright and theater director. He was artistic director at the Drama Studio (Činoherní studio) in Ústí na Labem between 1993-97. He was on a study stay in Antwerpen in the framework of the Tempus project, and at the Royal Court Summer School in London. Until 2002 he was artistic director of the Brno theater HaDivadlo, where he directed numerous plays including Top Dogs.  As a playwright he received the Alfréd Radok Prize for best original Czech play twice – in 1997 for "Dad" and in 1998 for Rest in Peace (Odpočívej v pokoji). As a director he also worked in Brno, Prague and Pilsen. With his opera direction debut at the Pilsen Tyl Theater (Zdeněk Fibich's Šárka) he caused one of the biggest outrages on the Czech theater scene of the last few decades. Since the fall of 2002 Pokorný assumed the post of the artistic director of the Theater Na Zábradlí, where he is to continue the tradition of the exceptional, individual and controversial work at this theater.





Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


May 24, 2004 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM


Czech Center

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