LETTERS TO OLGA

Václav Havel

DIVADLO V DLOUHÉ

SKUTR

LETTERS TO OLGA The first adaptation for the stage of letters written from prison by Václav Havel between 1979 and 1983, the production commemorates a man who entered not only world history but our lives and hearts. The theatre/movement/music form uses associative development of the texts of the letters, which concern the inner world of someone undergoing a major life test in a small prison space with the constant presence of fellow prisoners, and reflects on our relationship to the phenomenon of Václav Havel. The production builds on the tradition of the Theatre in Dlouhá’s lyrical projects.

Letters to Olga is testament not only to the complex character of the writer of the letters, but also to the marasmus into which he was thrown and in which he desperately sought to find something firm of which he could grab hold, so that he did not – to put it briefly – go mad. Writing was a form of defence against the environment in which he found himself, spiritual catharsis. His letters show a man of moral force who was, however, permanently inclined to doubt himself and felt great personal responsibility, which became even more acute when he was interned. SKUTR manages to capture this aspect and, in shadowy contours, to outline a picture of despair, although the main line develops in a different way. This main line is created more by the scenes that, in a way that is playful and full of images, if sometimes slightly banal, stage selected passage from the letters. There are more of the humorous ones, lightly ironic, which show Havel as a lover of order and an issuer of sometimes humorous, sometimes moving orders to his wife, ranging from instructions on how to turn off the water at Hrádeček to a recommendation that she should dress well.
– Jana Machalická, Lidové noviny

As both a visual and acoustic key, SKUTR uses the metaphor of a bass – which in Czech is also slang for prison. At the very beginning of the play, which takes place in front of the curtain, Eva Hacurová shuts the philosophising Tomáš Turek up in a double bass case (and, with engaging persistence, the actor continues his monologue). The gesture foreshadows the situation in which Havel finds himself and the childlike, spirited mood that accompanies the whole production. The actors also accompany the performance on the double bass and bass guitar. However, the strongest side of the production is Eva Hacurová’s singing, which she shares with the rest of the cast, above all at moments when the others create a couple. Her velvety alto and soulful rendition of English songs is as much of a delicacy as Havel’s language, intellectually and pedantically correct, but at the same time full of gentle feeling, anxiety and uncertainty.
– Kateřina Kykalová, Divadelní noviny

SKUTR consists of director Martin Kukucˇka (1979) and Lukáš Trpišovský (1979). They started to work together while studying at DAMU under professors Josef Krofta and Miloslav Klíma, and by the time of their graduation production were already attracting interest from critics and audiences. As a result, on finishing DAMU they were offered a creative residency by the director of the Archa Theatre, Ondřej Hrab. SKUTR’s productions featured at many prestigious festivals in Europe and Asia. Their production Weepers had 22 performances at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and was nominated for a Total Theatre Award. SKUTR’s auteur productions combine dance, movement, acrobatics, puppets, projections, light design, text and sound, and can be described in a word as multigenre or cross-over. In addition to their free, auteur-style work (Nickname, Little Death, La Putyka, Rite of Spring, The Tempest, Walls and Handbags, Orpheus), Martin Kukučka and Lukáš Trpišovský also direct opera, dance productions, drama, circus ad other theatre genres at leading Czech theatres (the National Theatre in Prague, Brno and Ostrava, the Klicpera Theatre, the Theatre on the Balustrade, the Petr Bezruč Theatre, HaDivadlo, the South Bohemian Theatre, the Rotating Stage at Český Krumlov, the Summer Shakespeare Festival) and abroad (Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Germany). Martin Kukucˇka and Lukáš Trpišovský are specialist assistants at DAMU in the fields of directing, dramaturgy and acting. They have won numerous awards for their work, of which the most significant are the Grand Prix at the FIST International Festival of Student Theatre in Belgrade in 2007 and the Audience Award at the same festival in 2007 and 2008, the Divadelní noviny Award in 2015 for the best dance production of the year (Walls and Handbags), the Evald Schorm Award and the Josef Hlávka Award. In the Alfréd Radok Theatre Critics Awards they have been nominated three times for talent of the year, and in 2010 for production of the year for La Putyka. In 2015 they were nominated for Divadelní noviny awards in four categories – drama, alternative theatre, musical theatre and dance theatre. In 2016 they were nominated in the drama and musical theatre categories.

THEATRE IN DLOUHÁ is a repertory theatre with a permanent company of actors. It was created in 1996, under the City of Prague. The current manager is Daniela Šálková, while the artistic management consists of director Hana Burešová, dramaturg Štěpán Otčenášek and the SKUTR duo. One of the founding members was director Jan Borna, who died in January 2017. The theatre’s repertoire is noted for its variety of genre, and much use is made in productions of the musical, singing and movement potential of the members of the company. The theatre has also made a name for itself as one that goes behind the standard dramatic profile in the direction of alternative, musical, puppet and cabaret theatre. Productions tend to stay in the repertoire of this favourite Prague theatre for several years.