In Conversation with the Director and Cast of V+W Letters
Theatre on the Balustrade presents “V+W Letters” at the Rehearsal for Truth Festival taking place in New York at The Bohemian National Hall from September 27 – October 1, 2017.
The text of this performance is drawn from the correspondence of Voskovec and Werich, the legendary founders of the Liberated Theatre in Prague, who had to flee fascist Europe and then separated in 1948 after the communist government got into power in Czechoslovakia. Their correspondence is a strong statement of life by two extraordinarily original and artistically mature personalities as they seek to understand a bipolar world full of iron curtains and cold wars.
These letters are priceless evidence of the intellectual and spiritual world of V+W and they are also the top literary work in Jiří Voskovec’s postwar period. “The form of abbreviation, short connections, theatrical allusions, plus the private codes and brilliant stylization, unbelievable addressing and signing” – these are the apt words the critics used to describe the correspondence.
We caught up with the Director and two of the cast members to give us a little insight into the creation and inspiration for the production.
What is your role/function in the production and how long have you been part of this company/show?
Dora Viceníková: I selected the letters from Voskovec and Werich for the script, about 30 pages, and asked the director Jan Mikulášek to direct. Everything else was a cooperation between me, Jan, stage designers Marek Cpin and Svatopluk Sládeček. The specific style of acting was discovered together with actors. They played an important role in creating the work during the rehearsals.
Jan Mikulášek: I have directed the show, but now it’s living its own life and I only make sure that its form doesn’t move too much from its original.
Anežka Kubátová: I mainly play the part of Zdenička, the wife of J.Wericha. In some short passages, I represent Ann, the seriously ill first wife of J. Voskec, and then hyperbolically also his second wife Christine.
What/who was the inspiration for the creation of this production?
Jan: The biggest source of inspiration were the letters between Voskovec and Werich, their lives and work.
What is the core political issue you are grappling with in the play?
Jan: Every ideology that separates instead connects, that builds fences and borders instead of taking them down, is dangerous and inhuman. Such an ideology prevented Werich and Voskovec from being and working together. However, our performance is not political, it speaks mainly about a very strong friendship that survived the obstacles and cruelties of that time.
How do you think Vaclav Havel still influences theater creation in Europe?
Jan: Václav Havel was a unique playwright, however for today’s Europe his moral and political legacy is more important.
Who are your mentors? Where do you draw on your inspiration to create your work?
Jan: My role models are directors whose works are dominated by visual elements and who do not stick to the realistic theater. I look for inspiration also in film and visual arts. I work closely with stage designer Marek Cpin, who encourages my imagination, and then there are always the actors who inspire me.
What is your favorite moment in the show?
Jan: I like the parts where actors manage to tell serious themes through playful clown humor.
Anežka: There are many moments like that. I like the closing scene when W. and V. are sitting together, connected by life-long friendship, bent under worries, years, yet singing together, each in a slightly different key.
Can you tell me a little about the chosen visual/physical style of your production?
Dora: The visual style is partly motivated by the avant-garde style of the twenties, partly by the topic of the piece – the absurd separation of the World.
Jan: The acting is inspired by clown acting, movement and speech are highly stylized.
What are you most looking forward to about coming to NYC to perform?
Dora: I am so happy, that this text about the separation of the biggest friends will resonate in country, where Jiří Voskovec spent the second part of his life.
Anežka: I’m really looking forward to coming to New York! Experiencing the atmosphere of the city, seeing skyscrapers, jazz clubs, Manhattan!
V+W Letters Opens on Havel Day in NYC, 28 September, 2017, 8:15 pm at The Bohemian National Hall.
Talk back after the show introduced by Petr Štědroň, Theater Director, and Dora Viceníková, Artistic Director
The show will be performed in Czech with English subtitles
Venue: BNH Ballroom
Afterparty reception at BNH Ballroom Bar
To Book FREE Tickets: http://bit.ly/VWLETTERS
Trailer of the Production: