The Magnificent 294

Tomáš Dianiška


Tomáš Dianiška

THE MAGNIFICENT 294 An action B-movie about the heroes of Operation Anthropoid. The hangman sitting in the castle needs to be shot. Maybe someone will fall from heaven. Olda is a butcher and makes fantastic schnitzels. Aťa loves Jules Verne books, and when he grows up he’s going to be a gunman. Jindřiška is in love for the first time, and has noticed how wonderful it smells in Libeň. And they all have a secret. Father has gone grey from fear. How can ordinary children be so courageous? We’ll bang nails into our flails and thrash the Nazis! As long as no one snitches, or Jindřiška won’t have time to fall in love again.

This documentary fiction is based on a real event that took place in the background of one of the greatest heroic acts in Czech history, the assassination of Reichsprotektor Heydrich. It is not just about the actual paratroopers who carried out the assassination, but also about the ordinary people who were affected by the event. Although Dianiška’s story of many heroes is deliberately treated as an action B-movie, a superhero comic strip, with black humour, mystification and ahistorical musical numbers, it manages to pay homage to real, modest heroism.“ As in his previous works, Dianiška uses a historical story as a mere canvas for his own free-ranging work. As well as musclemen we have cannibalism, Golem and a fairly spicy replacement for swastikas. “You shouldn’t have jumped from such a height,” Gabčík is told when he asks for treatment for his wounded leg.

It is, however, fascinating that despite the comic-strip grimaces and the out-and-out black humour, Dianiška has managed to create a work that is truly worthy of the theme. When it comes to the heroism of all those whose story the play tells, it does not matter in the end why Gabčík’s Sten gun seized up, or why Čurda set off to see his family. The Magnificent 294 is about courage as a timeless value.

“ The provocative, almost Shakespearean straddling of the boundary between high and low, laughter and emotion is characteristic of Dianiška’s narrative style. This is material that we automatically expect to be treated in a bashful and pious way. Surprisingly, however, Dianiška ends up making it human and bringing it closer to contemporary perceptions.

TOMÁŠ DIANIŠKA (1984) is the soul, organiser, main author and an actor at the Divadlo F. X. Kalba, originally created as a “punk offshoot” of the F. X. Šalda Theatre in Liberec. The F. X. Kalba Theatre ended up living its own life and became a cult “theatre clan”, closely connected with the Palmovka Theatre in Prague. Born in Banská Bystrica, at the age of 19 Dianiška left Slovakia for Prague, where in 2008 he graduated in acting from DAMU. He then started to work at the F. X. Šalda Theatre in Liberec. Since September 2014 he has been a member of the acting company of the Palmovka Theatre. The PALM OFF Studio, the theatre’s studio stage, has shown several plays by Dianiška, including 1000 Things That Piss Me Off (a theatre adaptation of the blog of the same name), The Silence of the Beavers, Let Donna Graduate! and Frankie the Armless. Tomáš Dianiška also acts in all the above plays. As well as the Palmovka Theatre, Tomáš Dianiška also works as both an author and actor with several other Prague theatres, including MeetFactory, Divadlo LETÍ, A Studio Rubín, Divadelní společnost Masopust, Chemické divadlo, Divadlo X10 and others. His play The Silence of the Beavers won a nomination in the Czech Theatre Critics’ Awards in 2016. In the same survey he also won the Talent of the Year award. In 2019 two of his plays were nominated for best Czech play of the year – Trannies, Points, Seconds and also Frankie the Armless, which he co-authored with Igor Orozovič.

PALMOVKA THEATRE is a repertoire theatre with a long tradition. In 2018 it gained the Theatre of the Year award in the Czech Theatre Critics’ Survey, on the 70th anniversary of the theatre’s foundation. After operational problems (the theatre is close to the Vltava river, and was hit by floods twice in close succession) the Libeň-based company, led by director Michal Lang, manages to combine in its repertoire both mainstream and experimental theatre. The theatre performs both on the main stage and in the chamber environment of the Studio PALM OFF, which is where Tomáš Dianiška’s auteur-style projects are premiered. Since 2015 the theatre has organised the international festival of central European theatres PALM OFF FEST. The distinguished Polish director Jan Klata has twice worked with the Palmovka Theatre’s company (Shakespeare: Measure for Measure, Goethe: Faust).