Audience and Admission

Jiří Dientsbier, Václav Havel

Břetislav Rychlík

Jiří Janků

Svatopluk Sládeček

Markéta Oslzlá-Sládečková 

Petr Hromádka

MAGOR Václav Helšus
BREWMASTER Martin Polách
VANĚK Tomáš Váhala
DANA NĚMCOVÁ Lucie Šlajchová

17 February 2023

AUDIENCE AND ADMISSION Two one-act plays by dissident authors are presented in one evening: Audience by Václav Havel and Admission by Jiří Dientsbier. Partly autobiographical and inspired by Havel’s time as a brewery worker, Audience brilliantly exposes the absurdity of the communist regime. Ferdinand Vaněk, a distinguished playwright forced by the regime to do manual labour, is called to the office of his boss, the Brewmaster, who offers him a better job as a stock clerk – in return for a favour. It is of interest that the play was translated into thirteen languages and performed all over the world before being officially staged in a Czech professional theatre. The second one-act play, Admission, was written by Havel’s friend and fellow dissident Jiří Dienstbier as a kind of sequel to Audience. The playwright Vaněk meets the chatterbox Brewmaster again, only this time in prison, which Dienstbier knew from inside all too well. True connoisseurs will surely be delighted to learn about the fate of the legendary brewery worker Šerkézy.

So far, no one has thought of staging Havel’s Audience and its sequel, the one-act play Admission, together. The latter is set in a prison, where the Brewmaster, now a seasoned inmate, welcomes the newly admitted Vaněk in a setting typical of communist jails. Rychlík has enriched the production with lyrical verses written in prison by Ivan Martin Jirous (nicknamed Magor), recited in plain and authentic voice by Václav Helšus dressed in prison uniform. Tomáš Váhala portrays Vaněk as an awkward intellectual. At the centre of the production, however, is the Brewmaster, portrayed by Martin Polách, who thematises every line under Rychlík’s direction, representing the grey mass of people who are unable to understand the dissidents’ commitment, yet envious of the social attention they receive. Petty people wish to stand in the spotlight. The production uncovers the enduring mentality of those who once surrendered to Hitler, then bowed to the Communists, and today demonstrate for peace negotiations with Putin.

– Sukces měsíce, Divadelní noviny

Martin Polách as the Brewmaster keeps his distinctive style in both one-act pieces, playing the music of the lines, refrains and verbal fugues like a virtuoso on the most difficult of musical instruments – language. He turns virtually every line into an etude of speech, movement and gesture. (...) What I find most intriguing, though, is the actor’s precise rendition of the complex and ambiguous, almost Gogolian sadness inherent to this character.

– VLADIMÍR JUST, Divadelní noviny

BŘETISLAV RYCHLÍK (1958) He is a Czech actor, screenwriter, director, documentary filmmaker and academy teacher. He started his career as an actor in regional theatres in Uherské Hradiště and Most; in 1982–1996 he worked as actor and director in HaDivadlo in Prostějov and later in Brno. He portrayed a number of leading roles in legendary productions by Arnošt Goldflam and Svatopluk Vála, and participated in original projects of Czech alternative theatres (such as Roads, Sabina, Rozrazil). In 1988, he started directing in Czech theatres (recently e.g. Our Class, Black House Miracle, Personal Alarm, Neapolitan Disease, Who Shot Down the Angel) and on foreign stages (e.g. directing Havel’s Redevelopment at the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre in Kyiv). He has made over three hundred documentary films, mostly focusing on social and socially critical topics and stories of people on the margins of society. He won several awards both at international festivals (Moscow, Krakow, Warsaw and Khanty-Mansiysk) and in the Czech Republic. Between 2012 and 2014, he produced and directed a comprehensive TV documentary series for Czech Television The Czechoslovak Underground. In 1993, he received The Journalist Quail, and the year after he was one of the winners of the European Feuilleton Award. He currently works as an associate professor at the JAMU Directing and Dramaturgy Department in Brno.

DRAMA COMPANY OF THE F. X. ŠALDA THEATRE The Drama Company has only been active in Liberec 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 dramaturges there. In 2010 a group of young actors around Tomáš Dianiška started the F. X. Kalba Theatre, now active at Prague’s Palmovka Theatre. Director Kateřina Dušková is the current head of the ensemble.