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There Are Places the Dark Likes, Where Never and Nothing Hide on Islands Remote (Judith Schalansky)

Filip Homola

Translation: Martina Loskotová
Concept and direction: Filip Homola
Set: Kamil Bělohlávek
Music: Kora et le Mechanix
Dramaturgical assistance: Vít Peřina

Miroslava Bělohlávková, Diana Čičmanová, Michaela Homolová, Dan Kranich, Adam Kubišta
Premiere: 18th February 2017

Capacity is strictly limited by the number of places available at the table

There are Places the Dark Likes, Where Never and Nothing Hide on Islands Remote After the faery of Bohemia is by the Sea, designed for the whole family but awakening the imagination of above all small children, the Naive Theatre Liberec has come up with another production that evokes the mystery and force of a basic element. This time it is aimed at grown-up audiences, and was inspired by the book Atlas of Remote Islands by the German author Judith Schalansky, born in 1980. Schalansky was born in Greifswald near the islands of Rugen and Usedom. This appears to have had an influence on her most successful book, published in 2009. Subtitled Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On And Never Will, Schalansky introduces it with a foreword in which she returns to her childhood in communist East Germany. Although she is a child from a coastal town, the closed borders meant she had to forget about travelling around the world. She made up for it by travelling with her finger around a map – she was an atlas child. And she remained one, so she says, even after the change of regime. For her book she chose fifty islands, scattered around the oceans of the world. Liberec puppet actor Filip Homola, also a member of the ambient music duo Kora et le Mechanix, and his musical colleague Michal Kořán, were inspired by the names (as well as the stories that Schalansky attaches to the islands) first to create small compositions that then became the basis for a magical production that brings to life eight of the small continents from Schalansky’s atlas.

In a fifty-minute theatre poem a series of mysterious and cruel stories float in front of the eyes of the audience. They have something to say about the human ability both to discover and destroy the planet
Divadelní noviny, Success of the Month

The words tend to insert themselves in the music in a soft and dreamy tempo: the gestures of the five reciting actors are similarly drawn-out. The spoken word may, of course, be music in itself, for example when the second of two speakers reciting in unison starts slightly late, giving the impression of waves. The image, too, is created by Filip Homola, or rather his set designer Kamil Bělohlávek, in frugal fashion, with a result that is similarly suggestive. The audience sit down the sides of a wooden table almost ten metres long. At the sides and behind them the actors move as if waiters in a restaurant, with the two musicians, the chefs of the restaurant, also sitting to the side.
Karel Král, Svět a divadlo

A pack of yoked dogs (modelled in a single block, on a string) runs down the table in front of us, or the artfully hidden lights of a runway light up in the table, with a model plane taking off between them (in a story about a courageous pilot whose flight was not seen by the members of the coastguard in their binoculars and “the ocean is silent”. In a drastic depiction of whale hunting using explosives, this environmental catastrophe is described by an actor who has “electrodes” strapped to his bare trunk. When his colleague hits an electric guitar at the other end of the table, he shakes convulsively.
Jan Kerbr, Divadelní noviny

The production by Homola’s team makes inspired use of puppet techniques and the theatre of things, as well as of projections and the effect of the words and music of the musical ensemble Kora et le Mechanix, who on CD carry off the audience as part of the programme.
Radmila Hrdinová, Právo

Filip Homola (1969) is a puppeteer, musician and director. After working in the Divadlo Lampion in Kladno, the Divadlo Minor in Prague and Babadlo in Prešov he came to rest in 1999 in the Naivní divadlo in Liberec. Since then he has played almost fifty roles there. He is also a member of the respected ambient duo Kora et le Mechanix, and composes stage music, for example for the Naivní divadlo’s successful productions Budulínek and Bohemia Is By The Sea (both of which have been shown at the Pilsen festival). “Places” is the second work he has directed, the first being the production Pandemonium (2009).

Naive Theatre Liberec The theatre was founded in 1949 as one of the first professional puppet theatres in the former Czechoslovakia. Its history is connected with the names of director and actor Jan Schmid (who founded the Studio Ypsilon here in 1963 – in the 1970s it then moved to Prague), the director Markéta Schartová and the playwright Iva Peřinová. Since the early 1990s its manager has been Stanislav Doubrava. The theatre does not have a permanent director, but works with guest professionals from other puppet and drama theatres. The theatre’s most critically-acclaimed plays include The Handsome Fire Chief or Fire in the National Theatre (2005), directed by Tomáš Dvořák. Its author, Iva Peřinová, was nominated among other things for an anniversary Alfréd Radok Award. The play was filmed by Czech Television, and the company also performed it repeatedly on the stage of the National Theatre’s historic building. Five years later the same creative team produced a puppet interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet Swan Lake (2009). Another area of long-term success has been the theatre’s work for small children, created by director Michaela Homolová and author and dramaturg Vít Peřina. Their production of Budulínek (2012) won an award for the best Czech puppet theatre of the year. A further production by the team, The Ram Who Fell From Heaven (2014), met with similar acclaim. This non-verbal theatre designed for children from the age of 2 was nominated for the Theatre Critics’ Award in the category Production of the Year. Michaela Homolová’s studio production Bohemia Is By The Sea (2016) won both an ERIK award for the most inspiring Czech puppet production of the year and the Divadelní noviny award. All these three – especially the linguistically universally understandable Ram – were invited to a number of prestigious Czech and foreign theatre festivals. The Naivní divadlo is a regular guest at these festivals, undertaking numerous journeys not only to most European countries, but also to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US, Canada, Mexico, India, Israel, Korea and Pakistan.


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