An Hour More, or Party in the Thicket

Vít Peřina


Tomáš Dvořák

AN HOUR MORE, OR PARTY IN THE THICKET Twice a year the clocks change. In spring they go forward an hour, and to make up for it, on an autumn night all the hands of all the clocks go back again an hour. This means there is a Saturday night in October that is an hour longer. It is during this mysterious “extra hour” that this production culminates. An original play by Vít Peřina (whose other work for the Naive Theatre Liberec includes Budulínek and The Mosquito Wedding), its heroes are siblings Maruška and Honzík, who live with their father somewhere in a prefab block on the outskirts of a large city. One day, however, their father decides to take his children to spend the night in the forest where he as a child used to sleep out with his father. He takes them to an old “tramping” settlement, hidden in a quarry deep in the forest. Little does he know, however, that a party of tramps is holding a gathering there, and that he will end up introducing his children to a number of old friends of strange countenance and still stranger names: Beaver, Radio, Grey Wolf and Duck… Because the tramps are “closing the forest” and getting it ready for the coming winter, they all stay up until the magic moment when the time goes back an hour. At that moment things start to happen that the children and the tramps had probably never dreamed of… A puppet comedy created by the team led by Pilsen director Tomáš Dvořák, who in the Naive Theatre has been responsible for a long list of successful productions (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Swan Lake, The Mosquito Wedding). The production marks the 100th anniversary of the anniversary of the Czech tramping movement, and also serves as the Naive Theatre’s contribution to the debate on the benefits versus harmfulness of Daylight Saving Time. Tomáš Dvořák’s direction of the production brought him a nomination for a Divadelní noviny award for the creative achievement of the 2018/2019 season in the category Puppet and Art Theatre.

An Hour More, or Party in the Thicket brings true and pure joy. It is a geyser of playfulness, invention, and humorous exaggeration of the sort that only wooden actors in cooperation with living ones can provide. Vít Peřina has written a magical little play with a moral lesson, in which he confronts the now fairly long-bearded world of the tramps with today’s online world, which for teenagers especially has become almost an obsession. (…) Director Tomáš Dvořák has both tramping props and vocabulary down to a T, and he manages to brilliantly embellish the atmosphere of forest merrymaking. The whole thing is wonderfully unpretentious and humorous, poking gentle fun at tramp culture.
– JANA MACHALICKÁ, Lidové noviny

Vít Peřina’s play brings together several themes and references. Like most children, Maruška and Honzík spend a considerable amount of their free time on social media, and so their father (they do not appear to have a mother) decides to take them to the forest – a little like in the story of Hansel and Gretel. And because their father was, in his youth, a tramp, which is a word as distant to the children as the idea that they should spend the night in the open, he sets out with them down unmarked paths through the thicket to an abandoned quarry. There, by a broken-down hut with the iconic name of America, his friends with weird nicknames are still meeting – Beaver, Grey Wolf, Stag, Duck and Radio. Indeed, even their father was apparently a Devil when he was young… This is all happening, of course, on the October night when the hands on the clock go back to winter time, and in the “extra hour” strange things start to happen.
– RADMILA HRDINOVÁ, Divadelní noviny

TOMÁŠ DVOŘÁK (1956) After studying at DAMU theatre school in Prague he joined Pilsen’s Alfa Theatre, where, with the exception of a season at the Naive Theatre from 1989 to 1990, he still works. Productions he has directed include The Fair at Hudlice and Prague, Goodness Gracious, It’s the Dogheads and Love Saves All. Together with artist Ivan Nesveda he continues the legacy of traditional puppet theatre, as can be seen above all in his productions of Iva Peřinová’s plays at the Naive Theatre: The Headless Knight, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Alína or Petřín in Another Part of the World, The Handsome Fire Chief or Fire in the National Theatre and Swan Lake. Dvořák is highly rated and respected both in the Czech Republic and abroad for his ability to develop the tradition of original Czech puppet theatre with respect for tradition, but also in a contemporary and modern way, with unusual directorial and artistic invention.

NAIVE THEATRE LIBEREC was founded in 1949 as one of the first professional puppet theatres in the former Czechoslovakia. Its history is connected with the names of director and actor Jan Schmid (who founded the Ypsilon Studio there in 1963; it then moved to Prague in the 1970s), director Markéta Schartová and playwright Iva Peřinová. Since the early 1990s its managing director has been Stanislav Doubrava. The theatre does not have a permanent director, but works with guest professionals from other puppet and drama theatres. The theatre’s most critically-acclaimed plays include The Handsome Fire Chief or Fire in the National Theatre (2005), directed by Tomáš Dvořák. Its author, Iva Peřinová, was nominated among other things for an anniversary Alfréd Radok Award. The play was filmed by Czech Television, and the company also performed it repeatedly on the stage of the National Theatre’s historic building. Five years later the same creative team produced a puppet interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet Swan Lake (2009). Another area of long-term success has been the theatre’s work for small children, created by director Michaela Homolová and author and dramaturg Vít Peřina. Their production of Budulínek (2012) won an award for the best Czech puppet theatre production of the year. A further production by the team, The Ram Who Fell from Heaven (2014), met with similar acclaim. The company’s further successes include the “magical” productions Bohemia is by the Sea (2016), There are Places the Dark Likes, Where Never and Nothing Hide on Islands Remote (2017) and Chuff. Chuff. Whoo. Ruff! (2019). All these productions – especially Ram, universally understandable in language terms – were successful not just at the Divadlo festival, but were invited to a number of prestigious Czech and foreign theatre festivals. The Naive Theatre is a regular guest at these festivals, undertaking numerous journeys not only to most European countries, but also to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, Israel, Korea and Pakistan. In the 2019-2020 season the theatre celebrated 70 years since its foundation. In June 2019 the jubilee 25th year of Mateřinka, the International Festival of Professional Puppet Theatres took place. The festival takes place in Liberec every two years and is organised by the Naive Theatre.