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SLOVÁCKO THEATRE

Moon over the River (Fráňa Šrámek)

Anna Petrželková

Direction: Anna Petrželková
Adaptation: Anna Petrželková a Iva Šulajová 
Dramaturgy: Iva Šulajová 
Set: Eva Jiřikovská 
Music: Mario Buzzi

Cast:
Jan Hlubina: Tomáš Šulaj
Josef Roškot: Jiří Hejcman
Villy Roškot: Zdeněk Trčálek
Paní Hlubinová: Irena Vacková
Slávka Hlubinová: Petra Staňková
Růžena Pavlátová: Tereza Hrabalová
Pan Brožík: Martin Hudec
Jan Hlubina schoolboy: David Macháček
Jan Hlubina when older: Vladimír Doskočil
Abiturienti: David Vacke, Petr Žajdlík, Roman Lacina, Jakub Vrága

Premiere: 4th March 2017 in the Slovacke theatre

Moon over the River The Hlubina family is awaiting the school reunion with trepidation. Jan Hlubina, once top of the class, did not become a writer or anything “important” and spends his life in his wife’s stationery shop, in the family nest in a small Czech town. Both the women in his life – his wife and his daughter Slávka – want to protect him from a clash with the unfulfilled illusions of his youth. Slávka herself, however, is lured during the course of the action into a youthful affair, and then to mature resignation… This is maybe the best play by Fráňa Šrámek, the classic Czech playwright and rebel often called the “poet of youth and life”. Although its picturesque language classifies it as impressionist, the play is often comedic in the brilliant pacing of its dialogues. It poses timeless, existential questions that are hard to answer: does youth lie to us with its bewitching words, or is this the only genuine period of our life? This play about youth and maturity, the conflict between ideals and lived experience, the atmosphere of the moment and ordinary days, about proud resistance, flying up on “eagle’s wings”and convenient resignation, can also be viewed from an entirely non-sentimental and psychologically-acute viewpoint.

Petrželková directs the first act like a wild grotesque, almost like puppet theatre with “period” scenery. The actors are markedly stylised with expressive mannerisms, massively overacting and behaving in their physical interactions with deliberate exaggeration. When Slávka (Petra Staňková) shakes her head while thinking, she literally shakes wildly all over in something resembling an epileptic fit. Rather than from situation to situation, the plot goes from gag to gag. (…) However, most attention is captured by Eva Jiříkovská’s set. The garish green set that represents the Hlubina sitting room is dominated by a sofa of the same colour, its cover featuring a print that looks like enlarged moss or blades of grass. The costumes, otherwise historicising in style, are made of the same material. After the interval the set changes to an old-fashioned classroom (as a reminder of the school reunion that stands at the centre of the plot), dominated by a magically-glowing moon in several variations. With the change of set also comes an abrupt change in style. The expressive means become more subtle, the actors suddenly become much more natural and hushed, and there is an emphasis on capturing their inner states. The second act of Šrámek’s play is, I believe, one of Czech drama’s best love scenes, and Petra Staňková and Zdeněk Trčálek manage to capture the initial distaste that Slávka and Villy feel for each other, their gradual awareness of their mutual attraction, their entrancement by a moonlit night, their mutual playful and sensual erotic sallies, followed by backings off and then a restrained distance, and the point at which Slávka finally comes to her senses and makes a thoroughly rational decision to nip their incipient relationship in the bud. (…) Petrželková also shows (with the abundant help of Mario Buzzi’s nervous electronic music) a talent for building a forceful stage atmosphere, in this approaching Šrámek’s impressionism. The humour also does better in the second half. The final conflict between Hlubina and old Roškot, for example, becomes a classroom battle in which they throw chalk at each other like little boys and build barricades from school benches. Moon over the River is a place that talks about the still-topical themes of disillusion the search for a fulfilling life, and the tension between resignation and wisdom, although the play’s dramatic method may not seem overly attractive for the current theatre. Anna Petrželková, together with the company, manage in the end, in spite of the self-conscious first part, to create an emotionally-taut production that manages, together with Šrámek, to engage in dialogue using an entirely contemporary language.
Jitka Šotkovská, Divadelní noviny

Anna Petrželková (1984) One of the notable directorial talents of Czech and Slovak theatre. She studied theatre direction at the VŠMU in Bratislava in Peter Mikulík’s year. She has worked as a guest director repeatedly throughout the Czech Republic, for example in the City Theatre in Zlín (Blanche and Marie, Cabaret Astragal, Good Manners), at the Husa na provázku (Goose on a String) theatre in Brno (Quiet Tarzan, P.Š.T.!) and the Reduta (Jules a Jim), the Švandovo divadlo in Prague (Mein Kampf, The Idiots), Divadle Na zábradlí (The Old Women), Masopust (Orlando) and Ostrava’s Petr Bezruč Theatre (Romeo and Juliet, Foam of the Daze) and in Slovak theatres. Her work is notable for its temperament, dreamy imagery and atmosphere. In past years she has been nominated for an Alfréd Radok Award in the category of Talent of the Year, and also for its Slovak equivalent, the prestigious Doksy award, in the category Discovery of the Year. In 2014 she won the first of these awards, by now under the title Theatre Critics’ Award.

Slovacke Theatre Uherské Hradiště is the smallest town in central Europe to have an ensemble theatre. The Slovácké divadlo, founded in 1945, is unusually popular, with over 8,000 season ticket holders in a city of 26 000 inhabitants. The theatre’s dramaturgy regularly tries to bring to the stage new plays in the form of original Czech and foreign plays, new translations of classic plays and adaptations of prose texts. The theatre’s growing popularity and its nationwide fame is assisted by its attempt to provide a repertoire that is balanced in genre, with regular guest appearances by well-known directors, set designers and musicians, and by its balanced company of actors who excel at creative teamwork. Visitors to the Pilsen festival have had the opportunity to see a number of successful productions by the theatre, most recently Pitínský’s Kaliba’s Crime and Anna Petrželková’s The Marriage.

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