BEFORE SUNSET

Gerhart Hauptmann

SLOVAKIAN NATIONAL THEATRE

Michal Vajdička

BEFORE SUNSET An imposing play about a family by the winner of a Nobel prize for literature. A well-off seventy-year-old man falls in love with a twenty-year-old woman. At a time when he no longer expects anything from life, metaphorically before sunset, he suddenly finds himself full of a new joie de vivre. Life, which had been gradually closing itself off to him, once again becomes magical and beautiful. His family, however, feels threatened by the relationship. His children, who have become used to being the centre of their father’s life after the death of their mother, cannot come to terms with the fact that their father no longer belongs to them, that he has not remained faithful to their mother’s memory. They consider their father’s girlfriend a gold-digger who wants to rob them of their inheritance. They decide to “protect” their father from her and from himself, thus setting off a storm of events with a tragic ending. Martin Huba received a Dosky 2018 award for the role of Mathias Clausen in the category Best Male Performance of the Year.

Vajdička takes the play as a highly topical autopsy of a family torn apart by money and prejudice, and he thus sets it in the present day. It is not, however, an unnecessarily radical adaptation – only the costumes and the props indicate that we are watching a story from today. The direction does not aim to astound with a distinctive interpretation; it is based on a sensitive reading of the play’s text, attentively decoding its moral and human standpoint. Vajdička manages this thanks to the way he focuses attention on the actors. Even the minor character have been blessed by the author with a rich backstory, so in the less exposed roles the actors also capture attention with thorough character portrayal.
Táňa Pauhofová as Bettina manages even in a small area to create a vivid portrait of a girl pushed aside without much of a life before her. The character of the daughter, with her excessive fixation on her father, is formed by her decently timid, almost fearful movement and her shy stammer…
At the hub of the production are logically the actors playing the pair of Clausen and Inken – Martin Huba and Mária Schumerová. With the passage of time, Huba’s Clausen acquires elements of concreteness and sobriety with which Huba manages to literally manipulate the atmosphere of the production, whether on the level of calm acting or sharp emotional outbursts.
– Karol Mišovic, Pravda

MICHAL VAJDIČKA (1976), the current director of the drama section of the Slovak National Theatre (SND), worked from 2003 as a lighting technician and professional lighting designer at SND Drama and in the Bratislava Dance Theatre. In 2004 he graduated in theatre directing under Petr Mikulík at VŠMU in Bratislava. While he was still a student, his production of The Lonesome West met with success at the international festival of theatre schools Setkání / Encounter festival in Bilina and at the domestic festival Istropolitana. As a director he then worked with many Slovak and Czech theatres (SND Drama Theatre, State Theatre in Košice, the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, Dejvice Theatre in Prague, the Vinohrady Theatre in Prague, National Theatre Brno). From 2014 he was artistic head at the Dejvice Theatre in Prague, where his work has included the successful A Blockage in the System, the winner of an Alfréd Radok award for best production in 2012. He is also an internal pedagogue at the Acting Department of VŠMU, and does some television directing. Two basic lines can be traced in his directorial work. The first focuses on producing classical drama (above all the plays of Chekhov, Shakespeare, Pirandello and the adaptation of works by Slánčiková-Timrava). The other focuses on contemporary foreign drama with an emphasis on the black comedy of Martin McDonagh and Irvine Welsh. Vajdička’s productions show precisely-functioning principles of a conservative model of theatre making use of modern (in some cases almost film-like), craftsmanlike stage situations, as used in his films by Quentin Tarantino, for example.

The SLOVAK NATIONAL THEATRE DRAMA COMPANY started activity in 1920. Today’s company, under the leadership of the past two artistic heads, builds on the famous tradition of exceptional actors who worked in the company for a century. The second-to-last head was Roman Polák in 2012–2017, who realised his dramatic vision of an open and politically-engaged drama theatre. Over his last five seasons he focused on productions of original texts, prose adaptations, and mapping white spots in Slovak history. January 2018 saw the appointment of his successor, the stage director Michal Vajdička, as the director of the SND Drama Company. Recent years saw the SND Drama Company feature regularly at international theatre festivals in Torun, Hradec Králové, Zlín, Brno, Olomouc, Pilsen, and Nitra, and guest perform in Prague (The National Theatre), Brno, Budapest, Bucharest, Ljubljana, and Vienna.