FERNANDO KRAPP WROTE ME THIS LETTER
A play about love, or a play about manipulation? A story about the need to own, or a story about the desire to be loved? German playwright Tankred Dorst (1925-2017) wrote Fernando Krapp in 1992, inspired by a short story by Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno Every Inch a Man, published in the 1920s. Who is Fernando Krapp? A man as bewitching as he is unbearable, a man with a mysterious past and a large amount of property, a strong possessive, cruel and loving man. A man of whom it is generally known that he gets everything he desires. At least he says so of himself. But there is also Julie. Beautiful, outwardly fragile, inwardly strong, and above the hopelessly romantic daughter of an indebted father. She is to be the reward for Krapp’s financial help. For Fernando, however, it is not enough to own. Fernando wants more, he wants unconditional love. And he manages to get it. The opposite of the harshly manipulative Krapp is then the aching, sensitive Count Bordavela. A poetic dreamer, but one who possibly manipulates Julie in exactly the same way. Or does he love her in the same way? How can one get away from a life that is becoming hell? And how not to love heartless people, who warm their icy hearts with the pain of those close to them? A drama with the subtitle An attempt at the truth…
In the plot, truth and falsehood alternate as if on a clock – more from the wish of the author than of fate. Sometimes there is a flash of exaggeration that is almost absurd, and even questions give way to each other: Does a woman really love, or is she just in love with her own love? What is unconditional love life? Can it be bought? A psychiatrist or psychologist would certainly find many more questions in the undertow, in what is not said or what is danced, but no one can overlook the precise and minimalist direction, the unity of form, words and gesture of the excellent protagonists who aim for millimetre-scale, almost radio-like acting.
– Petr Mareček, MF Dnes
Holec’s sensitive direction, which works with a minimalistically-conceived set design, evocative music and above all precise, detailed performances by the actors, composes the story into a series of interwoven choreographies, in which each of the figures has his or her own rhythm. These interactions thus sometimes bring harmony, sometimes cacophony. The marked stylisation of movement seems to underscore the strangenesses of the play’s language. Even before the start, the set brings a whiff of the museum – in the middle of the whole space is an artefact made of chairs piled on top of each other to a considerable height, with a notice saying DO NOT TOUCH! The figures gradually enter the darkened stage, until in the end Fernando Krapp himself brusquely pulls out a chair from the bottom, causing the whole pile to collapse. Then he sits in the corner of the stage with his back to the audience, and from then on is permanently present – and we feel his presence even at times when he is not taking part in the scene.
– Jana Soprová, Divadelní noviny
Jan Sklenář as Krapp shows us a man who clearly has something of a dark past (Julie hears a rumour that he may have killed his first wife) and the apparent coolness of the way in which he shapes his utterances serves only partially to hide his vanity. In his manipulation of those around him he is characterised by a kind of soft cruelty, in every situation he maintains a baleful elegance. Sára Venclovská presents Julie as a woman capable of submission, but in search of a more markedly fulfilling relationship (this is partly supplemented by the count). She offers subtly-presented sensuality and submissiveness, which are, however, accompanied by doubts regarding her own position in relationships. Jakub Tvrdík as the count who likes to dance (his scenes are accompanied by sometimes comic movement evolution) is a somewhat impetuous romantic, who in an unasked-for clash with a stronger opponent becomes a startled coward.
– Jan Kerbr, Lidové noviny
JAN HOLEC (1988) is a promising Czech theatre director. He graduated from DAMU, having studied law before that. In 2014 he founded the theatre company Spektákl, in which he clearly showed his fondness for stage reworkings of classic works of literature (Dostoyevsky’s Humiliated and Insulted, Lem’s Solaris). At the Klicpera Theatre he has directed, in addition to Fernando Krapp, Františák’s dramatisation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and has also worked with the LETÍ company, the National Theatre in Brno, the South Bohemian Theatre in České Budějovice and the Činoherní studio in Ústí nad Labem. In the theatre season now beginning he is taking over as artistic head of the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava.
KLICPERA THEATRE The theatre opened in 1885, and a professional company started work there in 1949. It achieved marked successes after the change of political regime in 1989. The theatre has four permanent stages in Hradec Králové. The main stage has a total of 400 places, the Studio Beseda has 130. The attic space V podkroví can take 50 people, and the summer stage, used mostly for theatre festivals, over 300 people. The Klicpera Theatre has four times won Theatre of the Year in the prestigious critics’ survey held by the Alfréd Radok Foundation (at the time when the artistic head of the company was director Vladimír Morávek). The theatre is also the organiser each year of the Festival of European Regions and Waiting for Václav.