The Memorandum

Václav Havel


Martina Frejová Krátká

THE MEMORANDUM A satirical parable about human conformity, as illustrated by the conflict between institute director Gross and his deputy Baláš, who is trying to introduce a language for officialdom called ptydepe. “Compared to The Garden Party (1963), the political level of the play is expressed much more explicitly, the dramatic metaphor is more concrete and direct. In the sharp exchange between Gross and Baláš, for example, we may recognise authentic or paraphrased speeches by Klement Gottwald on his visit to President Edvard Beneš during the communist takeover in 1948, when the communist leader and prime minister asked the President to accept the resignation of the non-communist ministers. In Gross’ speeches, meanwhile, we can identify allusions to the rigged political trials of the 1950s with Milada Horáková, Záviš Kalandra, Rudolf Slánský and many others who were unjustly condemned and also executed,” wrote Libor Vodička. The play was first performed in 1965 in the Theatre on the Balustrade, directed by Jan Grossman and with the author himself as dramaturg. Since then the play has been shown a further twelve times in the Czech lands, of which half have been since 1989 – although it was a parable heavily connected to the bureaucratic
communist machinery.

Václav Havel said of his play in Divadelní noviny: “If my plays continue to give the impression of being contemporary, it is not the result of some kind of clairvoyance or prescience on my part, but only because they are, I hope, properly written: I believe all good plays have to be valid forever, because
they must concern things that are permanent. In The Memorandum there are many levels that can easily be dispensed with – I am thinking about the ridicule of bureaucracy, for example – but behind them there hide, I hope, deeper levels, maybe model situations in which people lie to themselves… A theme like this
ought really never to grow old, if it is well expressed. This is not, however, so much a question of the playwright himself, as of a certain degree of openness that he might have. What I mean is that he has above all to be capable of being driven by the material he has chosen and its internal logic, the essence of the characters,
the essence of the play, that he has to listen to it all and record it sensitively. The thing itself then heads in a certain direction and says something. If the author is too clever and conceited, and thinks he knows everything and that he can arrange everything in the way he wants, it mostly turns out that he is madly clever,
but the result is not so clever. I think the play ought to be cleverer than the playwright – the latter is merely a medium through which certain internal rules of the work are implemented, and as I have already indicated, he must above all have an instinct for those rules. So if it should turn out that The Memorandum is valid for a further thirty years, it only means that I was not a proud author and I let myself be led by the material of my play.

MARTINA FREJOVÁ KRÁTKÁ (1984) Studied clowning for stage and film at JAMU under Ctibor Turba, after three years joining the acting course under Nika Brettschneiderová. After graduating she joined the Goose on a String Theatre. In 2006 she was one of the founder members of the Lord Alfred’s Servants civic association, which engaged mostly in alternative, non-verbal and movement theatre and where she mostly directed (Are You Sleeping With Me?, It Fell From Heaven, Murder for a Couple of Forks etc.) She was also active in the Theatre at the Table, the Polárka theatre and the Reduta in Brno, and for HaDivadlo wrote and directed the production Rape Me!. Since 2009 she has been an external lecturer at JAMU in Brno. From 2010 to 2019 she was a member of the Švanda Theatre’s company. In 2012/13 she directed the Švanda Theatre’s CRY BABY CRY, soon to have its 130th performance, a cycle of evenings entitled Dekabaret and the production A Decent Man based on a motif from Karel Čapek’s novel An Ordinary Life. She regularly leads workshops in the Švanda Theatre, summer schools in commedia dell’ arte in Velké Losiny and workshops focusing on mask theatre for JAMU and DAMU students. In September 2014 she initiated the creation
of an acting studio in the Švanda Theatre, where she is one of the teachers. In 2015 she started to work with the theatre company Titans, which performs in the Palace Theatre and started off with the production Again and Better, which she directed.

STUDIO MARTA is a specific experimental space that presents school projects by students from the JAMU Theatre Faculty. The theatre has three fundamental principles: Marta as an unmistakeable part of the theatrical component of (not only) the Brno cultural scene; Marta as a place to learn, listen, test and create for students and teachers of the JAMU Theatre Faculty; Marta as a simulator of the operations of a professional theatre. Although Studio Marta outwardly has the dimensions of a professional theatre, in reality it is a school, a specific space where students learn, experiment and create. As well as teachers, theatre
professionals are regularly invited to cooperate on projects. The ideas for work are generated above all by the dramaturgy and direction studios of JAMU Theatre Faculty. The backbone of the theatre’s season are graduation projects by the 4th year of the acting studio, as well as the studio of educational drama for the
non-hearing and the studio of physical theatre. Students from other courses also become members of the creative teams of these projects. In addition to the above-mentioned dramaturgy and directing courses, they come from courses in set design, theatre management and stage technology, audiovisual work, light design and other areas.