THE CROSS BY THE STREAM

Karolína Světlá

SLOVÁCKO THEATRE

Martin Františák

THE CROSS BY THE STREAM A love story from the mountains. This adaptation of Karolína Světlá’s novel deals with the last generation of the Potocký family – a family burdened by the deeds of its ancestors. Is it possible to overcome the shadows and ghosts of our parents and grandparents? To break through the dark waves of the past? Can human love manage to battle through in a relationship where a man is changing, in front of his wife, from a loving angel into a beast? A drama from the hillsides, a play about belief and the strength of a relationship. A story that is, surprisingly, also about us – people living in a time that is falling apart.

“Františák (...) does not stage the Cross by the Stream as a realistic village drama. His emphasis on motivation and a psychological study of the characters is enhanced by elements containing symbolism, mysticism and social criticism, reminiscent of Scandinavian drama. He highlights the ritual and is not afraid of pathos. His heroes are not, however, moral models, but almost archetypal figures. He approaches the material in such a way that it is not just contemporary, but timeless.”
– Tereza Hýsková, Divadelní noviny

The fact that the audience is blown away by the universal testimony of a story that is already distant in both time and socially is partly down to the actors’ performances (…) They are all close to expressionism, in the case of the actors playing the brothers, also to naturalism, as is clear from Štěpán’s repeated drunken rants and Ambrož’ lofty passions. If the task set by Eva when she carries the cross by the river was meant to be as much considered as spellbinding, then Františák’s production also fulfils it.
– Marcel Sladkowski, Divadelní noviny

As the production develops we also see a change in the acting, which develops from marked expressionism at the start, passing through psychological experience to reach a more natural expression at the close. (…) The Cross by the River is an exceptional feat that places the Slovácké divadlo in Uherské Hradiště among those Czech theatres that are impossible to overlook.
– Pavla Bergmannová, Listy

MARTIN FRANTIŠÁK (1974) is a leading Czech director and playwright. He graduated from JAMU in Brno in dramatic education and then direction under Arnošt Goldflam. In 2005 to 2007 he was the head of the Brno theatre Polárka, from 2007-2013 artistic head of the National Theatre’s drama section. He then took up the same post in Prague’s Švanda Theatre. For a long time he worked with the amateur company in the Wallachian town of Karolinka, the area from which he comes. He has over 60 productions to his name, with recent ones including Suspicious Landscape with Angels (2016) about the life of the poet Zdeněk Rotrekl, and Ibsen’s Lady from the Sea (2017), both at the National Theatre, Brno, and in Prague Topol’s End of Carnival (2018) at the Vinohrady theatre and Invisible (2019), an adaption of Jaroslav Havlíček’s novel at the Prague City Theatres. As a director, Martin Františák has also participated in Czech Television’s praiseworthy documentary Bohemia Like a Poem, in which he introduced viewers to contemporary Czech poets. Of his theatre plays, the best known are Home, Bride and Karla, all of them staged (not just by him) by professional Czech theatres.

SLOVÁCKÉ DIVADLO UHERSKÉ HRADIŠTĚ shows repeatedly that its significance goes beyond that of a regional theatre. Under the artistic leadership of Michal Zetel it invites experienced directors to work with it (Zdeněk Dušek, Martin Františák, Šimon Caban) as well as those from the younger generation with a refreshing outlook (Michal Skočovský, Lukáš Kopecký, Linda Keprtová). The alternative dramaturgical line, SloffÁCKÉ DIVADLO, offers contemporary plays in non-traditional spaces (a rock club, a school classroom). The theatre shows its work at leading festivals (Brno Theatre World, DIVADLO international theatre festival, the Slovak festival Pohoda). Together with the Zlín City Theatre it organises the ZARÁZ festival, at which they present their best productions to a specialist public.