The Blunder

Milan Kundera


Vladimír Morávek

THE BLUNDER Milan Kundera’s second play, from 1966, looks at power and the way in which it can destroy ordinary people who fall prey to its enchantments. The headmaster of a school draws a yellow diamond shape on a blackboard out of boredom. The next day the whole incident starts to be investigated, much to the sarcastic enjoyment of the headteacher, disenchanted with a world in which everybody reports on everyone else and everybody has to put on a permanent act. And where it is necessary to look strict and ruthless in order to keep up appearances. It is at this moment that he is consumed with love for the young teacher Eva, who understands the root of his behaviour. There is, however, far from being a happy end.

Kundera’s The Blunder was withdrawn from the repertoires of all theatres after 1968 as unsuitable. Even after 1989, however, it was played only once, in Prague’s Činoherní klub. The author himself did not want the play, about the personal frustrations and shortcomings that influence the world around us, to be performed anywhere. Recently, however, the Klicpera Theatre received rare permission from the author to produce the play. The production also saw the return to the Hradec Králové stage of the award-winning director Vladimír Morávek, who was for many years the head of the Klicpera Theatre.

Milan Kundera returns to the stage after a long time, and Vladimír Morávek to the Klicpera Theatre. Both returns are beneficial and desirable. Out of something that was meant by the author more or less as a piece of fun caricaturing the uptight society of the time, as The Blunder tends to be played, Morávek has created one of his typical spectacles showing the breakdown of the world and the tragedy of lonely individuals. The result is underscored by Daniel Dvořák’s structured set, Eva Morávková’s costumes (with wigs characterising the various figures), the background music and sound effects by David Smečka, with their various references, and the acting in the main roles, above all Petr Jeništa guesting (also a one-off return to the Klicpera Theatre) in the main role as the despairing Headteacher, Jiří Zapletal as the pathetic Chairman, Natálie Holíková as the fragile Eva and Kamila Sedlárová as the monstrous Růžena.
– Success of the Month, Divadelní noviny

The production shows the company of the Klicpera Theatre in a very good light […] More than on the more general, political relevance, there is an emphasis on the psychopathological level, which is undoubtedly contained in the text, but is not pivotal. Petr Jeništa, now a guest but previously a member of the company when it was led by Morávek, as the Headteacher combines wiliness with a fear of the higher-ups, as well as an animal wildness. Jiří Zapletal, one of the best Czech theatre actors, has created the Chairman as a weak and submissive mummy’s boy, who as the holder of power is, however, a threat to his surroundings.
— JAN KERBR, Divadelní noviny

Morávek’s The Blunder has the dimensions of an ancient tragedy. The visually-compelling images supported by motifs from classical music always have to hand, however, a switch that indicates critical distance and irony. […] It is this mixture that strengthens the unique quality of the ambiguity of Kundera’s text, in the same way as the much-discussed issues of truth and appearance.
— ŠÁRKA ŠVÁBOVÁ, Literární noviny

VLADIMÍR MORÁVEK (1965) graduated from the JAMU theatre school in Brno. From 1989–1996 he was a director at the Goose on a String Theatre, in 1997 becoming the artistic head of the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové. Under his artistic leadership the theatre three times won the Theatre of the Year award, and eleven of his productions were nominated for the Production of the Year award in Czech theatre. In 1998 he won the Czech Literary Fund Foundation Award for the project Night of the Antelope. Other projects of his that have remained in the subconscious of theatre audiences include Maryša, or in fact Mařka at the Theatre on the Balustrade, Hamlet (as part of the project God Save William Shakespeare) at the Klicpera Theatre and Three Sisters (as part of the project Chekhov for the Czechs) also at the Klicpera Theatre. He has won exceptional recognition in Slovakia, where at the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra he directed Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Marián Labuda in the title role. The production brought him an award for direction in the prestigious Slovak Dosky awards. Morávek’s work is also well-known from other Prague theatres – he has directed Rusalka or Cabaret Undine at the Theatre in Dlouhá, Tosca and Macbeth with the National Theatre opera, The Cherry Orchard, The Marriage and Cyrano!!! at the Vinohrady Theatre. He has also made the films Boredom in Brno and Hrubeš and Mareš, Friends Come Rain or Shine with Čestmír Kopecký. Until 2017 he was the artistic head of the Goose on a String Theatre. Under his leadership the theatre staged a four-part project based on Dostoyevsky entitled A Hundred Years of the Cobra. The project subsequently collected a total of fourteen nominations for an Alfréd Radok award. His production of Pig or Václav Havel’s Hunt for a Pig was shown at the prestigious international festival in Avignon in 2013. In 2019 he started to make a full-length film based on the production of Ballad for a Bandit with the working title Nikola Šuhaj.

KLICPERA THEATRE The theatre opened in 1885, with a professional company starting there in 1949. The theatre achieved its greatest successes after 1995, when Vladimír Morávek was artistic head of the theatre for ten years. Thanks to productions that were provocative in their violation of established stereotypes, unconventional staging of world classics and Czech realistic plays, changes in the acting company and a firmly-structured dramaturgy the Klicpera Theatre under Morávek’s leadership managed to escape the mould of a provincial theatre and started to become well-known on a national level. The subsequent artistic leadership under David Drábek (2008–2017) was known for its specific style, including exaggerated stylisation, hyperbole and experimental grotesqueness. Since the 2019/20 season the theatre’s artistic head has been director Pavel Khek. The Klicpera Theatre has been nominated four times as Theatre of the Year in the prestigious survey conducted by the Alfréd Radok Foundation and each year is the main organiser of the festivals Theatre of European Regions and Waiting for Václav.