Czech Theatre Review

2011, vol. 22, n. 1 – peer-revied articles

Hilde Haider­‑Pregler: On Performed and Unperformed Plays. Cultural Transfer between Prague and Vienna in the 1930s.

The contribution examines official attempts at establishing cultural exchanges between Austria and Czechoslovakia. The author recapitulates the circumstances of the guest performance of the Viennese Burgtheater given at the Prague New German Theatre (Neues Deutsches Theater) on 19th June 1936. Instead of Edmond Konrád's Brood Hen (Kvočna) in the Viennese adaptation, which was acceptable for the Catholic Church, the Burgtheater finally chose the noncommittal tragedy Gyges and His Ring (Gyges und sein Ring) by Christian Friedrich Hebbel. Following prolonged negotiations concerning Czech representation in the Viennese cycle Voices of Nations in Drama (Stimmen der Völker in Drama, 1933), Jaroslav Hilbert's plays Falkenstein and The Other Shore (Druhý břeh), and eventually also František Langer's Mounted Patrol (Jízdní hlídka) and A Camel through the Eye of a Needle (Velbloud uchem jehly) were, for various reasons, all rejected, and Czech theatre remained unrepresented in the cycle. On the occasion of a guest performance by the Vinohrady Theatre (Vinohradské divadlo) of the Mounted Patrol (Vienna, April 1936) it was necessary to conceal the fact that the Czech legionnaires had defected from the Austrian army.

Kurt Ifkovits: Paula Wessely's Prague Season (1926/27) in the Mirror of Critical Reflexions by Max Brod and Otto Pick.

The article discusses Paula Wessely's Prague season of 1926/27 at the German Theatre (Deutsches Theater), showing how it was precisely as a member of this theatre company that she was able to develop her characteristic style of acting. While initially following up on her Viennese beginnings and playing “boulevard” roles (e.g. coquettes or housemaids), she gradually went over to ones that challenged this particular role cliché. The critiques by Max Brod and Otto Pick reflect the transformation of Paula Wessely into a unique actress. Her début, although arousing interest, gave reason for comparisons with other actresses; however, already on her second appearance, Max Brod concluded that in future he would have to speak about “the Wessely”. The professional growth of Paula Wessely, who was highly dependant on other people's opinions, took place under the (indirect) influence of the reviewers Brod and Pick, as well as under the factual leadership by her theatre director and colleague Leopold Kramer. He entrusted her with roles that heralded her subsequent exquisite performances. Prague was the brithplace of a unique personality in the German speaking theatre, who would do her utmost to shake off the omen of the Boulevard.

Alena Jakubcová: Theatre Director Brunian's Office to Count Černín.

In 1768 the theatre company of Johann Joseph von Brunian (1733–1781) became dominant in the sphere of German­‑speaking theatre in Prague for long ten years. The company's director overcame initial difficulties, as well as subsequent critical situations, and achieved the publicly acknowledged position of enlightened reformer of the Prague stage. The company's repertoire is, however, known to us only with regard to limited periods of Brunian's activity in Prague, delimited by the short lifespan of critical periodicals. No sources at all have been preserved from the period of 1773–1776. The collection of archive materials kept at the National Regional Archives of Třeboň (division Jindřichův Hradec), from which we are publishing a sample of three letters by Principal Brunian to Count Prokop Vojtěch Černín, gives a detailed account of the functioning of the theatre company in 1774–1775, at the time when Černín was its intendant. The collection provides so far unknown information about the dramaturgy, the manner of selecting individual titles, the assignment of roles, attendance, profits from the sale of tickets, as well as about personal matters that the principal had to deal with on a daily basis.

Adolf Scherl: Grillparzer in the Czech Theatre.

The acceptance of Grillparzer's work by Czech theatres is not a continuous process; it appears more like a sequence of encounters, each time with a different motif, which, nevertheless, represent a number of important theatrical events. They begin with the early premiére of The Ancestress (Die Ahnfrau) at the Stavovské Theatre in 1825, and continue with Hero and Leander and Sappho at the Provisional Theatre (Prozatímní divadlo) in 1879 and 1882, three stagings, during the Nazi occupation, of Woe to Him Who Lies (Weh dem der lügt) at the National Theatre in 1941, The Dream as a Life (Der Traum ein Leben) also at the National Theatre in 1943, as well as The Waves of Love and the Sea (Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen) at the Theatre on Poříčí (Divadlo na Poříčí) in 1944. These three productions display not only outstanding performances by the actors, but also original elaborations of all the theatrical components. The latest attempt at producing Grillparzer was The Jewess of Toledo (Die Jüdin von Toledo) at the Prague Theatre Beyond the Gate III (Divadlo za branou III) in 1995, whose main asset was the translation by Karel Kraus.

David Drozd: The Body Trembling in Silence, or, In Search of the Tragic Gesture. The Surgeon of His Honour Under the Direction of Hana Burešová.

The study analyses the production of Calderón's drama The Surgeon of His Honour (El médico de su honra) under the direction of Hana Burešová in Theatre in Dlouhá, Prague (premiered on April 4th, 2009), based on the translation by Vladimír Mikeš. The adaptation by Štěpán Otčenášek and Hana Burešová follows the compendiousness of the text, establishes new links between the supporting characters, liberates the play from its historical context and supports the possibility of an ambivalent interpretation of the characters. The production is based on the principles of baroque theatre, which it cites in an abstracted manner. Typical baroque themes of illusory and dreamlike visions of reality are realized by means of complicated play with throughviews and lumens, swivels and veilings. The analysis of the production is set into the larger context of the director's work, especially in view of the dramaturgical succession of tragic plays. The author points out the shifts in the poetics of the direction, which – although still unambiguou­sly modernistic – develops from the focus on the extensive and theatrical, towards more intimate and introspective spheres of representation.