Blackbird

David Harrower

NATIONAL THEATRE

Directed by Jiří Pokorný

A dramatic meeting between a man and a woman who were once connected by a great love, which led the man to spend several years in prison. What connects them today? Can real love exist between an adult man and a girl on the brink of womanhood? These are the questions posed by one of the most distinctive directors of the middle generation, Jiří Pokorný.

Director: Jiří Pokorný

Translation: David Drozd

Dramaturgy: Iva Klestilová

Set: Jiří Pokorný

Costumes: Zuzana Krejzková

Music: Petr Kofroň

Cast:

Raymond - Jiří Štěpnička
Una - Jana Pidrmanová
Girl - Helena Němcová


Premiere 11 March 2010

The performance lasts 1 hour 10 minutes, with no interval

This production is part of the project “The Future of European Drama Theatre – Tradition and Experiment in the Visegrad Area”.

 

Blackbird – One of Harrower’s edgiest plays, Blackbird describes a meeting between a fifty-six-year-old man and a twenty-seven-year-old woman, whose lives were changed for ever by a passionate relationship fifteen years ago. The play develops the theme of the clash between life and the law. Peter Stein has said of it: “It is not a play about paedophilia: it’s a play about love. It’s also about a world where 12-year-olds are treated as consumers, where advertising uses sex as a means of enticement and where kids have easy access to internet porn… The play may start like a tabloid story but must become a metaphor of love. It must be about leaving. That is the problem of love: it starts, then it dies. Or you leave.“

 

Jiří Štěpnička is an excellent actor. The conscious construction of his role and the spontaneous, even extreme physical treatment of it are in rare and natural harmony. Everything his Raymond says and does is like walking a tightrope. Will he fall or not? Will he betray himself? Will he remember Una and tactically pretend he doesn't know who she is? Is he just a lying coward? But maybe he really doesn't recognise her…

… Štěpnička comes over as a workaholic for whom work is a way of forgetting. As a passionate man who tries to control himself. But still, somewhere at the back, the possibility is open that he is only pretending everything.


Marie Reslová, Hospodářské noviny

 

The discovery of the production is Jana Pidrmanová’s supreme creation. She gives Una the believable form of a girl whose development, from her abuse in childhood (although one of the causes was her prepubertal passion) has reached the form of a rootless and – at least going by what she says – fairly promiscuous young woman. There is also effective interplay between the experienced protagonist and the promising talent, with the tension culminating at the points when they interrupt each other, and when the interpretation of the desperate testimonies of both figures overlaps.

Jan Kerbr, Divadelní noviny


Although the production lasts a mere 70 minutes, it is extremely demanding both for the actors and audience. The audience hardly manages to také a breath, it is so drawn into the dialogue and captivated by it. Štěpnička and Pidrmanová act with unbelievable energy and strength, giving their performances the psychological and physical maximum.

Jan Januš, www.cianews.cz


Jiří Pokorný (born 1967) – After studying at DAMU, Jiří Pokorný co-founded the new Činoherní studio (Drama Studio) company in Ústí nad Labem, where for several years he was also artistic head. His productions here included Spring Awakening and Electra, as well as plays by contemporary Czech authors – J. A. Pitínský, Egon Tobiáš, Lenka Havlíková and himself. Both his plays – Dad Shoots Goals and Rest In Peace – won first prize in the Alfréd Radok Foundation awards for new plays. In addition to the theatre in Ústí, voted the best Czech theatre of the year by critics in 2000, he has also worked in Prague’s Komedie Theatre, the Divadlo Na zábradlí (Theatre on the Balustrade) and in the Pilsen opera house (where he produced the controversial Šárka by Fibich). He has also worked as the artistic head of HaDivadlo in Brno, where his highly successful productions have included Yerofeyev’s play Moscow – Petushki, Urs Widmer’s Top Dogs and Ravenhill’s play Faust (Faust is Dead). From the start of the 2002/2003 season until 2006, he was the artistic head of the Divadlo Na zábradlí, where his plays included Mr. Kolpert, The Farmer’s Woman, Platonov Is A Scoundrel and others. He has also directed at the National Theatre, the Ta Fantastika theatre and the Reduta theatre.


National Theatre – Drama Company – The backbone of the repertoire of the four theatres that together form the National Theatre’s drama section is extremely varied – from classical comedies, classic world drama, mixed actors’ benefit evenings to contemporary drama. The National Theatre’s drama company comprises distinguished figures on the Czech theatre scene from across the generations. Regular directors include Ivan Rajmont, J. A. Pitinský, Jan Nebeský and, above all, artistic head Michal Dočekal, who has headed the drama section since 2002. Both the dramaturgy and overall artistic focus of the theatre aims to achieve a balance between tradition and new trends, classic works and modern approaches.