Idomeneus

Roland Schimmelpfennig

NATIONAL THEATRE BRNO

Štěpán Pácl

IDOMENEUS A promise is a promise. In return for his safe return from the Trojan War, Idomeneus promises to sacrifice to the gods the first living creature that he meets on the shore. That, however, turns out to be his own son. The king kills his son and his people drive him out of the country. The original myth is this simple, but as adapted by Roland Schimmelpfennig (*1967) it is not that simple… Although Schimmelpfennig has chosen a classical subject, with Idomeneus he has not written a ‘new classical drama’. He has not tried to transfer an early theatre form to the present day and contemporary theatrical practice. His play has its own style and form, connected to the ancient Greeks perhaps only in the choral speeches, poetry and the ability to tell a story. In this, however, he draws more on Middle Eastern oral traditions than on the chorus of ancient Greek drama. Still, the play does have something in common with the classical presentation of myth through drama: a theme that exceeds human understanding and the directness with which it is conveyed to the audience. In Idomeneus, Schimmelpfennig develops the theme of clinging to life at all costs, even at the price of sacrificing the future. In the light of the coming social and environmental changes, the question of sacrificing oneself for the future or sacrificing the future for oneself is one that is utterly fundamental.

“ A powerful elegy is created, and the intertwined voices attack the audience’s imagination. Aided by its mellifluence, this approach simply forces the audience to concentrate, to think about the words they are hearing and then to form images. All of this is heightened by the physical gestures and sounds, whether these are imitating flying and the shrieking of seagulls or the battering of the waves. The total harmony between the actors is the foundation of everything, and audiences will appreciate the truly demanding use of voices, memory and the body itself. It is a great credit to the actors that in this formally unusual theatre machine they function so precisely.
——LUBOŠ MAREČEK, Lidové noviny

“ The production is fast-paced. The actors are superb. Their sharply-shot gestures are unusual. They cut the story open and search for details. Like detectives looking for a murderer. They handle brilliantly the Brechtian style set by the director. They hold the audience’s attention until the very last word.
——JAROSLAV TUČEK, Divadelní noviny

ŠTĚPÁN PÁCL (1982) Štěpán Pácl was born in Prague. He studied drama directing at DAMU in Prague, graduating in 2007 with a production of Lenka Lagronová’s Kingdom. After finishing university he directed freelance around the country from Ostrava to Cheb, in 2010 founding the theatre company Masopust with former fellowstudents. He led the company, and for two years in a row he won the Alfréd Radok Award for Talent of the Year with the productions End of Masopust and Brand-Fire. He was the artistic head of the Petr Bezruč Theatre and an in-house director at the National Theatre in Prague. He met the current artistic head of the National Theatre Brno Milan Šotek on a production of Langer’s play Suburbs, and later also while working at the National Theatre in Prague. From 2009 he taught acting and directing at DAMU, and since 2019 he has been a researcher at the Institute of Theory of Stage Work there. Since 2019 he has been an in-house director in the drama section of the National Theatre Brno, where he focuses on world drama of the present day and the recent and more distant past. He has a special feeling for great Czech drama – his successful production of Jirásek’s The Lantern was followed by Josef Topol’s Migration of Souls, with which the Mahen Theatre’s Small Stage opened as a space for intimate evening productions. He enriched his repertoire of international plays with Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom. In the 2020/2021 season he showed Chekhov’s The Seagull and Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Mahen Theatre. In the 2021/2022 season he continues in this line with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Čapek’s Mother.

THE DRAMA SECTION OF THE NATIONAL THEATRE BRNO has been active in the Moravian capital under various names since 1884. The company now performs in the Mahen Theatre and the Reduta. The current artistic head, dramaturg Milan Šotek, has since taking up the role in 2019 profiled both venues as spaces for drama theatre and ensemble acting with the aim of creating a large and modern drama section. This focus has been aided by major changes in the acting company, an overhaul of the repertoire and the reappointment of an in-house director, now Štěpán Pácl.