Czech Theatre Review

2010, vol. 21, n. 3 – peer-revied articles

Martin Bažil: Carrying Their Heads Like Does… The Old Czech Play The Spice Merchant as a Work of Literature (a preliminary methodological essay).

Although the fragment of the text of the drama The Spice Merchant ranks among the most frequently interpreted texts from the early Czech literature, and scholars in a wide variety of fields have commented substantively on it, research so far has not yet solved a number of fundamental questions related to it. This fact has to be taken into account with each new interpretation, no matter which discipline is concerned. The article points at three of the problems that are within the scope of literary studies: the questions 1) of the nature of the text of The Spice Merchant (on the level of genesis and preservation), 2) of the genre, and 3) of the authorship, resp. the authorial intention and the functional use of poetic language.

Kateřina Vršecká: Dramatic and Liturgical Elements in the Rubrics of the Latin Easter Drama.

The study is concerned with the rubrics (Latin stage directions) of the medieval Easter drama, analysing them with respect to the mingling of dramatic (theatrical) and liturgical (ceremonial) elements. Both aspects, which were characteristic for all forms of liturgical drama, are examined in view of the main components of the rubrics (identification of the speaker, costumes and props, motion, gesticulation). The main focus is put on the movements and gestures given in the rubrics, i.e. liturgic gestures with a ritual origin on the one hand, and, on the other hand, dramatic gestures independent from the liturgy, which stem from the dramatic action of the characters. Although traces of liturgy and ritual are evident to a higher or lesser degree in most components of the subsidiary texts of the Easter offices and plays, many of the rubrics already reflect theatrical elements such as imitation and dramatic presentation, which are not necessarily implied in the main text.

Kateřina Bobková­‑Valentová: Talent Is Not Crucial: Searching Sources of Inspiration for Jesuit School Plays.

The massive development of school drama in the context of Jesuit grammar schools in the first half of the eighteenth century displayed certain remarkable territorial and temporal traits. One of the specific features in the environment of Central European religious orders was the annual practice of each class staging a celebratory play at the end of the school year. The principle of never repeating older plays which had already been performed earlier brought about a vast breadth of production, and compelled all the Jesuits to become dramatists, at least once each year. Even though the writing of a drama itself remained in the sphere of mere craftsmanship, the choice of the topic and the development of the chosen theme were entirely the authors’ responsibility. In looking for a theme the authors could find inspiration, for instance, in preachers’ manuals; for selecting quotations, which were used mainly as commentaries on the plot, they resorted to scholastic authors and textbooks, as well as collections of exempli. The presented analysis of the synopsis of the play Primaeviae institutionis conformis morum difformitas Wenceslaum inter et Boleslaum (1726) shows the author’s possibilities of finding sources of inspiration, as well as the limitations of such endeavors.

Magdaléna Jacková: The Motif of Theatre in Three Plays about St. Genesius.

The article presents a comparison of the motifs of theatre and acting in three plays about St. Genesius, who, during a performance in which he parodied Christians, converted to Christianity himself. The three plays are Lope de Vega’s Lo fingido verdadero (around 1608), the drama by the German Jesuit Jacob Bidermann Philemon Martyr (before 1618), and the play by Václav Renč Císařův mim (The Emperor’s Mime) (1944). Although all the three plays cover the same legend, theatre plays a different role in each of them. While in Lo fingido verdadero theatre is a symbol of the whole world, in Bidermann’s Philemon, as well as in Renč’s drama, acting symbolizes rather the search for one’s own self. Whereas The Emperor’s Mime is based on Lope de Vega’s play, in its conception of dramatic art it is paradoxically closer to Bidermann’s drama.

Jan Hyvnar: Tyl’s Airy Midsummer Night’s Dreams.

“Tyl’s Airy Midsummer Night’s Dreams“ are a reflection on the nature of dramatic fairy tales by the foremost dramatist and actor of the Czech National Revival Josef Kajetán Tyl. These fairy tales have a long and sustained tradition in the Czech theatre. Nevertheless, Tyl’s fairy tales, particularly Strakonický dudák (The Bagpiper of Strakonice), have been staged in a variety of different ways, and the author reminds us of two entirely different productions: the one by Jiří Frejka, which adequately expressed the folksiness of the story; and the production in the fifties of the 20th century, which was merely an ideological illustration of the principles of socialist realism. In the spirit of folksiness in Frejka’s production, the author reflects on the miraculousness of the play, which should evoke amazement and enchantment with the triformity of the fictional world of fairy tales (the world of the people, the world of the fairies, and the cosmological order). In this respect the author refers to the German Romanticists, particularly Ludwig Tieck. In conclusion he characterizes the stage fairy story as an open and ludic genre, which is synthetic in its character.

Jana Bžochová­‑Wild: Shakespeare, Pedants & Lasica and Satinský. Scraps from a Great Feast of Languages.

The study examines several aspects of learning and education in Shakespeare, mainly in view of the characters of pedants and the teaching of languages. The scenes with teachers and pupils in Shakespeare’s comedies correspond with Bachtin’s principle of carnivalisation; they have, however, an additional political dimension. The study consists of two parts. In the first part, it analyses the figures of teachers and the phenomenon of teaching in a selection of plays. In the second part, the focus is on the comedy Love’s Labour Lost and on the linguistic performance by the two pedants Holofernes and Sir Nathaniel, as well as on the Slovakian production of 1978, in which the two well­‑known comedians Milan Lasica and Július Satinský performed their own text “very freely after Shakespeare”.

Dariusz Kosiński: Grotowski and the Theatre of Transformation.

The article outlines the history of the idea and practise of the Polish theatre of transformation as the important context for understanding the work of Jerzy Grotowski. The theatre of transformation is a kind of performative activity used as the tool or vehicle leading to deep spiritual experiences, close to the ones that in former times laid the foundations of great religious and spiritual movements. The difference between the religious and theatrical transfiormations is that the only condition for the latter is the precise technique and methodical exploration of the professional performer, not the acceptance of a set of beliefs or ideology. According to the author such a proposition of creating the spiritual changes and deep social movements around specific experiences of performative and theatrical kind is typicał for the Polish tradition founded in the times of Romanticism by the Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz (esp. in his drama The Forefathers Eve) and 100 years later introduced to the theatre practice by Reduta and its leaders: Juliusz Osterwa and Mieczysław Limanowski. The article demonstrates how Grotowski’s work was connected to this tradition and which of its elements were developed by the artist in different periods of his artistic carreer.