Interview with Juraj Nvota – Director of the Production: Eve of Retirement

Astorka Korzo ́90 Theatre will be presenting their production of Eve of Retirement/ Pred Odchodom na Odpocinok at The Rehearsal for Truth theater festival in honor of Vaclav Havel. The festival takes place from 25 -30 September at The Bohemian National Hall and is presented by The Vaclav Havel Library Foundation and The Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association. This Slovak play will be performed on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:30pm. We spoke with director Juraj Nvota about the production.


Juraj – What/who was the inspiration for the creation of this production?

Life and politics in Slovakia. Theater is always trying to show what is beneath the surface of man and society. Slovakia secretly remembers its first fascist state, which originated during World War II. The State wanted to justify the generation of our fathers and heirs who willy- nilly contributed to handing over 60,000 Jews to the gas chambers. Like the characters of Thomas Bernhard’s play The Eve of Retirement, they secretly celebrate the birthday of Heinrich Himmler and secretly invoke the spirit of fascism. In Slovakia, they already have their seats in the Parliament.

Can you tell me a little about the chosen visual/physical style of your production?  

With the scenic designer, Jozef Ciller, we decided not to play this chamber and mysterious story in the Astorka Theater on a stage but in a theater foyer that resembles a bunker or a catacomb. Viewers through the open door of sight see empty places. Three siblings participate in the crypt-celebrations. A brother with nostalgia, an older sister with a demons of consent and a younger, with the fear of the minority.

What is the core political issue you are grappling with in the play?

Nostalgia can justify her own crimes for her own youth. So I can explain that older people today are able to say that it was better in the era of communism. Even the Israelites in the wandering trials often mentioned how they were better in Egyptian slavery.

Who are your mentors? Where do you draw on your inspiration to create your work?   

In my own prayers I hear what bothers me, what I cannot change, for whom and for what to intercede. Good theater is always present, but in my old age I find that only the eternal is always current in the current way.

How do you think Vaclav Havel still influences theater creation in Europe?

What brought Gandhi to the political culture of the world brought Václav Havel to European theater. He revealed the power of weakness and weakness of power.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to NYC to perform?  

I´m looking forward to people in parks, on streets, random encounters.

What American Theater Companies/Performers/Playwrights do you like?

Woody Allen, T. S. Eliot, Sam Shepard

Friday, September 28, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Presented by: Astorka Korzo ́90 Theatre
Script by: Thomas Bernhard
Director: Juraj Nvota
Cast: Peter Simun, Zuzana Kronerova, Marta Sladeckova
Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council, Bratislava Self-Governing Region and the Slovak Consulate General in New York

Eve of Retirement represents not only an artistic masterpiece but also a political and social catharsis for the Slovak nation, whose government collaborated with the Nazi regime during the so-called Slovak state (1939–1945). The production may be characterized as metaphorical realism showing this “evil” and its historical recurrence. Playwright Thomas Bernhard is one of the most important German-language authors of the postwar era, he pushes his contempt for Austria as a nest of unregenerate Nazis and anti-Semites to an outrageous extreme in the play.

The production was awarded Grand Prix as Best Production at the New Drama Festival of Contemporary Slovak and World Drama 2006 organized by The Theatre Institute in Bratislava.

The Astorka Korzo’90 Theater from Bratislava is a company committed to pioneering dramaturgical and directorial works related to modern world classics. They have been one of the leading theatres in Slovakia following the legendary On Korzo Theatre that was closed for political reasons in the early 1970s.

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The Vaclav Havel Center