Victorious Swine

Radek Beran and Cakes & Puppets Theatre


Radek Beran and Cakes & Puppets Theatre

VICTORIOUS SWINE The production is inspired by the work of Ladislav Klíma, especially by his short stories Sus Triumfans, from Psychopathological Notes, and The Storm Raged, from the collection I am the Absolute Will. It is a puppet farce about people low and high, a grotesque with elements of horror about pure love and pure hate, about how pain becomes pleasure and pleasure pain. Against the background of the world of junk literature, the author’s three-in-one spirit comes alive in three puppets and tries in vain to impart deep philosophical truths. To despise everything, to laugh at everything, to play with everything – this is the only Height, and the only path to the Height. Futility as the motor of the production. Nevertheless, an important factor in the production is the motif of hope, something seemingly uncommon in Klíma’s work. Hope like a requiem, grinning, but still hope. Everything is supported by a game of the elements that influence everything…

(…) to look at this production through the lens of Klíma would make only a little more sense than to examine the company’s previous hit Rocky IX through the lens of a muscular action film. This is so despite the fact that in one of the key scenes there are direct quotations from Ladislav Klíma, and on several occasions – and sometimes a little out of context – a monkey puppet appears and in authorial fashion utters a couple of hackneyed philosophical and similar sententiae. What is more important is that Cakes and Puppets work with their favourite, tried and tested method of taking a “big” story, smashing it to pieces and then putting it together into a somewhat curious, but enjoyable and highly distinctive form.

This time the jigsaw is more classic in its way than it might have been. The important scenes are played with traditional marionettes, even including a rare and original devil by Váchal (I cannot vouch for the truth of this statement, but it is a nice idea) and also using painted scenery on an entirely traditional puppet stage. It is another thing, of course, that in the same style we also see a performance of – even within the limits of marionette possibility – entirely realistic sex. It is somewhat un-marionette-like in nature, but with an entertaining fondness for cheap symbolism, complemented by various Bollywood metaphors such as a pumping steam engine piston and an erupting volcano.
For anyone who follows Cakes and Puppets regularly, there is not so much here that is completely new, but the desire and ability to come up with more and more ideas, absurd bits of fun and gags that are technologically no doubt fairly demanding is remarkable. In this regard, Victorious Swine is one of the most successful of the company’s productions in the last few years (…).

RADEK BERAN (1968) Actor, author, theatre and film director, founding member of the company Buchty a loutky (Cakes and Puppets), representative of postmodern puppet “punk.” Radek Beran as author and director has enriched the company’s repertoire with, in particular, productions related in some way to the film industry, often the ‘B’ film industry, such as Urbild remix (1997), Rocky IX (2004), Baryk – Dog on the Road (2008), Lynch (2009), The Fly Reloaded (2011), Jaws Reloaded (2011), Barbarella Reloaded (2011), Psycho Reloaded (2011). In 2006 he created a production based on Petr Sís’ book Tibet – The Secret of the Red Box, a story about a father and son and male homesickness. Radek Beran also plays in his own productions and those of his colleagues from Cakes and Puppets. He also guest directs, for example at Divadlo DISK, DRAK Hradec Králové and the Lantern Theatre in Kladno. So far his most distinctive film achievement has been The Little Man, played by marionettes with visible strings in the real environment of a forest (2015). He has also produced a theatrical version of the story in the Divadlo b, which he founded.

CAKES AND PUPPETS is an independent alternative puppet theatre which performs for both children and adults and was founded in 1991 by new graduates from the puppetry department at DAMU theatre school. Since then the company has produced 60 new plays for adults and children, puppet and animated films and videos, and many one-off projects in the field of non-traditional theatre, music, art, film and their combinations. Cakes and Puppets currently appear regularly as permanent guests in the Švanda Theatre Studio in Smíchov, Prague, where they also have their own facilities. However, they also play some 250 performances a year around the Czech Republic and abroad, and are invited to domestic and foreign international festivals, such as EITC in Mexico, EU.TAC in Japan, CAOS in Canada, Taipei Film Festival in Taiwan, Festival in Silkeborg in Denmark, Keller69Theatre in Switzerland, Kunst Haus Horn Fest in Austria, Figurentheatre festival, Germany, Hohensteiner Puppenspielfest, Germany and many others.