Authors: Veronika Švábová, Tomáš Procházka, Jakub Hybler, Robert Smolík, Jan Dörner
Production: jedefrau.org and Alfred in the Courtyard
Premiere: 20 October 2011
Performance length: 70 minutes
Clouds – Handa Gote research&development take another look at “small history,” this time from their own personal archives. Veronica Švábová explores the history of her own family, looking for important moments and apparent trifles that have been preserved in the memory of family members until today, and which form the character of the family community. Clouds is a subjective study of one’s own family, presented as a series of pictures with no causal relationship, just as fragments of past events live in our memory. What mistakes do we make again and again, just like them, without learning? What do we know about them, anyway? Can we understand their acts at all? What will we look like in 20 years’ time, assuming we’ll even be here? What forms, characters and information do we carry in our own bodies? What results of what deeds or events do we carry with us in life? What do we really remember and what is just our imagination? What does the family mean today? And who still knows how to bake “clouds”?
Handa Gote do not forget their roots, and so scenes from the family archive are projected on to the screen. Veronika Švábová, filmed live by the camera, enters into the projection and thus changes into her ancestors, accompanied by disturbing music. Švábová behaves with appealing diffidence on stage (Clouds is performed mostly in the Holešovice theatre Alfred in the Courtyard). She stutters, repeats herself and generally appears unprepared and spontaneous. Perhaps the most powerful moment is when she talks about who betrayed her family during the Nazi occupation. “Only my granny knew, and she kept it a secret all her life. On her death bed, she told my mother. And my mother told me.” Then she picks up a megaphone and announces to the audience “It was the Cajthamls”. Modest and fitting revenge.
Vojtěch Varyš, Týden
Presented as a vibrant patchwork of memories, impressions and stories from the past, the many pieces of the performance are given significant weight by the subjectivity attached to them. Veronika Švábová uses her family’s history, compiled from photos, diaries, videos and a recipe, to engage the audience in a lively and informative way that is mostly compelling, thanks to her ingenious use of technology
André Cours, The Prague Post
Meanwhile a sizeable projection screen spews out images of old diary entries, press cuttings and dog-eared photographs. In the most beautiful moments of Mraky, Švábová takes center stage and breaks out into ballet or “air swimming”. Captured by a camera fixed at the front of the stage, Švábová’s figure is blown up and blurred to form a ghostly apparition of herself – perhaps a reflection of her own evanescence?
Will Noble, The Prague Post
Veronika Švábová (b.1974) – Graduated in dance studies from the Duncan Centre and HAMU in Prague. Since 2000 she has worked as a choreographer with the Forman brothers (Crimson Sails, Beauty and the Beast,The Klapzuba Eleven, A Well-Paid Walk, Obludarium, Poor Pale Rusalka). In 2005 she founded the theatre group Hande Gote research and development, together with musician and sound designer Tomáš Procházka. She has worked on most of the group’s productions as a choreographer and musician.
Handa Gote research&development – Handa Gote is an artistic group with an arsenal that features sound installations, movement and dance theatre, live music, media archaeology, art theatre and technology. Its work is influenced by minimalism, eastern philosophy and the DO IT YOURSELF movement. It mixes traditional Czech DIY, object and technology recycling, the Cargo cult and inspiration from the Japanese aesthetic categories Mono no aware, Wabi and Sabi. Pavel Klusák has said of its focus: „If something happens on stage, we tend to call it theatre. But Handa Gote cannot be so easily pigeonholed. This Prague stage group characterises itself as a project for research and development into dance and movement theatre, art theatre, music and sound design and the integration of science and technology into art. It sounds fairly laboratory-like. But you could also say simply that it is a theatre of thirty-somethings who have grown up surrounded by computer games, faulty machines, in garage rock rehearsal rooms among cables and guitar effects. And now they reflect all of this.”