SYLVA The drama section of the F. X. Šalda Theatre has for long been engaged in making classic literature accessible, at the same time looking for subject-matter connected with distinguished figures of the region. These requirements are ideally fulfilled by A Village Novel (1867) by Karolína Světlá, one of the greatest Czech novelists. The romantic story of the deep love between the courageous Sylva and the noble-minded Antoš, trapped in an unhappy marriage of convenience, takes place on the southern slopes of the Ještěd mountain. The landscape in the novel practically becomes an active character, linking the emotional storms experienced by people whose home is the harsh mountains. This is the first time that A Village Novel has appeared on stage, in a production by one of the Czech Republic’s most distinctive directors, artistic head of the Švanda Theatre Martin Františák.
“ The world of A Village Novel comes alive in Liberec in Eva Jiříkovská’s artistic vision. She has created a variable wooden set that allows a parallel view into various environments (the interior of the inn, the house, the exterior) and has given the acting company stylised folk costumes in natural colours. A pattern that is creatively repeated on the skirts of the women is that of tree branches – a symbol of the connection between rural society and nature. The natural cycles that are reflected in the wheel of human life are also imprinted into the form of the production in the shape of human rituals – whether the beheading of the rooster, the Christmas crib or carrying out Death at the end of a smallpox epidemic. […] Under the leadership of director Martin Františák, the Liberec company shows surprising acting potential.
——JANA SOPROVÁ, Divadelní noviny
MARTIN FRANTIŠÁK (1974) Leading Czech director, playwright and poet, from the 2019/2020 season the artistic head of the Švanda Theatre in Smíchov. He studied theatre education at the Theatre Faculty of JAMU in Brno, followed by drama direction. Above all, however, he met a number of people there who were key to his further work: Alexej Pernica, Arnošt Goldflam, Zoja Mikotová, Pavel Švanda and others. He made his debut as a playwright with the play Home, written for the Jan Honsa Theatre Company in Karolinka. The play was then shown at the National Theatre in Prague, as then was his second play Karla. His play The Bride was shown at the World Festival of Amateur Theatre in Tromsø, Norway. His play Cloudburst won a Czech Radio competition for the best Czech play, held to mark the 80th anniversary of its regular broadcasting. Františák is also the experienced author of many dramatisations and theatre adaptations – the most recent include an adaptation of Mahen’s Jánošík and Homer’s Odyssey for the National Theatre Brno and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina for the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové. In 2005–2007 he was the artistic head and head director of the Polárka theatre, which during his time there became one of the leading Czech theatres (not only) for children and young people, even earning a nomination for Theatre of the Year. In 2007–2013 he was the artistic head of the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, the dramaturgy of which at the time was one of the most progressive in the Czech Republic. His time as artistic head of the National Theatre Brno from 2013 to 2018 is considered very successful. He led the Brno drama section and its company to a number of remarkable artistic achievements and subsequent theatre awards (for direction, acting, music and other things). As a director he has over 60 theatre productions under his belt in professional theatres all over the Czech Republic: he has worked with the Vinohrady Theatre, the Theatre in Dlouhá, the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové, the South Bohemian Theatre in České Budějovice, the Zlín City Theatre and the Slovácko Theatre in Uherské Hradiště. He won a Josef Balvín Award for his production of Bremen Freedom at the Kladno City Theatre.
THE F. X. ŠALDA THEATRE DRAMA SECTION has been active in Liberec only since 1945. Before then, theatre was performed mostly in German, with Czech productions provided only by guest companies. Figures such as Josef Balvín, Oldřich Daněk, Zdeněk Digrin, Ivan Glanc, Zdeněk Hořínek, Vlasta Gallerová, Miloš Horanský and a number of others have worked as directors and dramaturgs here. In 2010 a group of young actors around Tomáš Dianiška started the F. X. Kalba Theatre, now active in the Palmovka Theatre in Prague. The production of Sylva was created during the successful period when Šimon Dominik was artistic head (2016–2020). The company is now led by director Kateřina Dušková.