Weissenstein

Johannes Urzidil - David Jařab

PRAGUE CHAMBER THEATRE

Directed by David Jařab

Weissenstein, a dramatisation of Johannes Urzidil’s short story of the same name, is the tale of a man who is unable to decide between two women, and indirectly causes their death. Director David Jařab has emphasised the expressive and grotesque elements of Weissenstein’s indecisiveness, his pitiful outsiderness and poorly-developed sense of self. In grotesque shorthand, full of subtle absurdities and gags, purely theatrical means are used to demonstrate the psyche of a man who was born "without the courage to be himself." With this stylistically-pure production, Divadlo Komedie once again shows that it is the rightful bearer of an Alfréd Radok award for Theatre of the Year.

Direction, set, dramatisation: David Jařab

Translation: Božena Koseková

Music: Ivan Acher

Singing (live): Lenka Dusilová / Jana Šrajerová Vébrová

Costume: Kamila Polívková

Cast: Jiří Černý, Martin Finger, Stanislav Majer, Dana Poláková, Ivana Uhlířová

Premiere 17 December 2009

The performance lasts 1 hour 30 minutes with no interval

This production is part of the project “The Future of European Drama Theatre – Tradition and Experiment in the Visegrad Area”.

Weissenstein – A dramatisation of a short story by the Prague German-language writer Johannes Urzidil. Karl Weissenstein is a man with a large head, a small amount of self-confidence, great feelings of guilt, little ability to accept happiness, a great tendency to run into bad luck and little will to live. His life might have been quite nice if it had not been one long holding pattern, not even ending with death.


David Jařab puts three Weissensteins on stage (Jiří Černý, Martin Finger, Stanislav Majer). Three totally different variations on one ego. This is an exceptionally fortunate idea; the way in which the actors hand over to each other both in speech and actions, the way in which they comment on each other and fight each other, is an excellent and grotesque method, full of discreet absurdities and gags, of demonstrating, using purely theatrical means, the psychology of a man born “without the confidence to be himself.” Another brilliant idea is the apparently independent singing of Lenka Dusilová: she, too, is a commentator on the action, she too is a functional part of one of the most stylistically-pure productions of recent years.

Vladimír Just, Lidové noviny

 

Jařab, the author of the dramatisation and its director, has managed to develop on stage a remarkable, darkly grotesque and compact piece with brilliant formal ideas.

Roman Sikora, Deník Referendum

 

With this production, David Jařab has achieved a theatrically-convincing stage form that is close to him. In the context of the Komedie Theatre it is a further milestone on the distinctive, intellectually demanding and attractive theatrical path embarked upon seven years ago.
Vladimír Hulec, MF DNES

 

David Jařab has stripped Urzidil’s short story down to its essential skeleton, with some of its speeches. Those familiar with the hundred-page story must take their hats off to the skilful way in which Jařab has managed to cut away all the “literariness,” so that each word used is functionally-engaged in the theatrical form.

Josef Chuchma, MF DNES

 

David Jařab (born 1971) – Studied drama direction at the Janáček Academy of Arts in Brno. From 1993 worked at Brno’s HaDivadlo as a director, going on to become a playwright and the theatre’s artistic head. In 1997 he moved to Prague, where he taught, wrote scripts, translated and directed plays on a freelance basis. Since 2002, as a director and key author, he has been one of the two defining personalities – the other being Dušan D. Pařízek – of the Komedie Theatre. In addition to directing and writing plays, he also creates auteur-style films. 2004 saw the premiere of his full-length film Vaterland – A Hunting Logbook. He is also an artist and set designer. He realises practically all his plays himself, as the director. His most successful productions include his stage adaptation of Ladislav Klima’s novel The Suffering of Prince Sternenhoch (2007), his original plays Vodičkova – Lazarská (2005), Žižkov (2006), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (2005) and Elfriede Jelinek’s Klara S (2004). David Jařab won the Literary Fund Award’s prize for the best film of 2004 with Vaterland – A Hunting Logbook, as well as the Czech Film Academy’s Český lev (Czech Lion) award for artistic achievement in Czech film in 2004. His producion Vodičkova – Lazarská was selected for the Neue Stücke aus Europa festival.

 

Komedie Theatre – The Komedie Theatre has been operated since 2002 by the Pražské komorní divadlo (Prague Chamber Theatre, PKD). A progressive theatre, its dramaturgy focuses mainly on the first productions of contemporary Czech, Austrian and Austrian drama (Thomas Bernhard, Werner Schwab, George Tabori, Elfriede Jelinek and others). In addition to this main dramaturgical focus, around which the repertoire is based, there are “Open Stages” projects, co-production projects and guest productions. The PKD has decided to run the Komedie as an open theatre, with only a minimal production and artistic team in charge of its organisation and functioning. Contrary to established practice, the PKD thus employs no actors or technicians. Nevertheless, the Komedie Theatre still has a visible group of actors, which is one of its great advantages (Karel Roden, Daniela Kolářová, Vanda Hybnerová, Roman Zach, Martin Finger, Gabriela Míčová, Martin Pechlát, Ivana Uhlířová etc.). Its work gives the Komedie a leading position among Czech theatres, something which is also shown by the large number of awards that the theatre has won (being declared Theatre of the Year in 2007 and 2009 in the Alfréd Radok awards, for example), its participation in prestigious European festivals and guest performances in significant foreign theatres, including the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg the Deutsches Theater Berlin.