I am the State

Vincent Macaigne


Jan Mikulášek

I AM THE STATE In an unknown land a king was overthrown. He did not die, but became a plaything in the hands of contemporary politicians. No one understands anything, but everyone keeps going forward, because – as one of the characters in the play says – “the world doesn’t have to be rescued, the world has to be entertained.” This play by a contemporary French author is a picture of our complex, chaotic, insatiable world, in which those who shout the loudest have the most space, but where there are still some heroes to be found who care about what happens to us all. This production by one the Czech Republic’s most remarkable directors is being shown at the festival immediately after its Prague premiere.

JAN MIKULÁŠEK (1978) After studying drama direction at the Janáček Academy of Musical Arts, which he did not finish, he worked as the artistic head of the Brno theatre Polárka. Together with other young theatre artists he helped make Polárka a closely-folllowed alternative theatre, focusing mostly on auteur work for as wide an audience spectrum as possible. He was also the artistic head of the Petr Bezruč Theatre, and worked regularly with the Reduta theatre in Brno. In 2013, when the artistic head of the Reduta took over the leadership of the Theatre on the Balustrade in Prague, Mikulášek became director there. Productions directed by Mikulášek form the backbone of the theatre’s repertoire, and are regularly performed at domestic and foreign festivals (The V + W Letters, Europeana, Bourgeoisie, The Grey Seventies, The Stranger, The Golden Sixties, Hedonists, Hamlets, Obsession, AnderSen, The Woodcutters, Personas). Mikulášek’s directorial approach frequently involves the dramatisation of novels and other non-dramatic texts, original scripts and auteur theatre. He works with cutting, detail, musical contrapposto and parallel action. His other major source of inspiration is fine art, from which he “borrows” an emphasis on mise-en-scene and lighting. A marked feature of his work is the way in which he plays with the meaning of speeches, content and associations on a given theme. He manages to materialise on stage entirely abstract, philosophical subjects. In addition to the Theatre on the Balustrade he works with other theatres, recently mostly with the National Theatre (The Cremator, Wonderful Land, I am the State).

NATIONAL THEATRE – DRAMA SECTION The drama section works in three architecturally-different theatres. The largest one is a national emblem, a symbol of Czech culture and the independence of the nation, with dramaturgy that follows the path of the classics of the Czech and international repertoire. The classicist building of the Estates Theatre, meanwhile, shows both classic and contemporary works, while the New Stage, which is the most progressive of them, serves as a place for auteur projects and Czech premieres. The theatre works with representatives of the middle and young generation, thus giving rise to daring productions, radical interpretations of the classics and novel renditions of contemporary plays. The National Theatre’s drama section shows seven or eight drama premieres a year, but a good deal of its activity also consists of accompanying activities and educational programmes. The current management of the drama section, headed by Daniel Špinar, tries to make the National Theatre an institution that is alive and open. Its activities also include the
Prague Crossroads festival.