BURIAN A play by Tomáš Dianiška, who, after several years, returns to Liberec as playwright and director. This time he narrates the turbulent life of one of the most famous Liberec natives, Vlasta Burian, who is widely considered to have been the king of Czech comedians. After enjoying a meteoric rise to fame and a period of immense popularity, Burian eventually hit rock bottom; the glory days had whittled away and he lived out his sunset years in misery, sadness, and undignified conditions. When German occupiers closed all Czech theatres in the country on 1 September 1944, Burian suddenly lost his beloved audience. But the worst was yet to come. After the war, he was falsely accused of collaborating with the Nazis, expelled from the acting community, evicted from his villa, and imprisoned. Six years had lapsed before the aging and tired Burian could return to acting, but he was no longer the same energetic comedian that people once knew. These twists of fate form the cornerstone of Dianiška’s play. The author exhibits these fateful events from a distinct point of view, commenting on them with his typical pinch of humour whilst still preserving their chilling impact on the protagonist’s life. The production was nominated in two categories in the 2021 Theatre Critics’ Survey: ‘Best Actress’ (Veronika Korytářová) and ‘Best Czech Play Staged for the First Time’ (Tomáš Dianiška).
Tomáš Dianiška’s plays can be likened to Woody Allen films. They are variations on a tried-and-tested formula and on similar themes, skilfully and provocatively mingling reality with fiction and always highlighting the essential and eye-catching details. Those who appreciate his style will not be disappointed by this new production.
As director, Dianiška has amplified this Grotesque’s exaggerated playfulness by casting Veronika Korytářová as Burian. This gender swap is far from self-serving, however. The young actress convincingly portrays the comedian in all phases of his life, from childhood to old age (adding only the typical moustache as an allusion to his aging). Her femininity reveals Burian’s strange fragility, teetering on the edge of crying whilst laughing, his strained spontaneity and stylised playfulness, as well as the certain air of ‘unmanliness’ about him.
– Jana Soprová, Divadelní noviny
Veronika Korytářová in the titular role is the highlight of this production. She has captured the attributes of the character with the utmost authenticity. Not only has she perfectly mastered his diction, but first and foremost she presents an accurate overall psychophysical portrayal that comes across as astonishingly natural. She maintains the fitting stylisation of gestures and facial expressions that are so typical of Burian yet avoids slipping into overacting.
– Jana Machalická, Lidové noviny
TOMÁŠ DIANIŠKA (1984) He represents the soul of the F. X. Kalba Theatre, serving as its organiser, main author, and actor. The theatre’s pun-based name (meaning ‘boozing’ in Czech) betrays its origins as a ‘punk offshoot’ of the F. X. Šalda Theatre in Liberec. The F. X. Kalba Theatre ended up living a life of its own, becoming a cult ‘theatre gang’ closely associated with the Palmovka Theatre in Prague. Born in Banská Bystrica, Dianiška left Slovakia at the age of nineteen for Prague, where he graduated in acting from DAMU in 2008. He then began working at the F. X. Šalda Theatre in Liberec. Since September 2014, he has been a member of the Palmovka Theatre ensemble. The PALM OFF Studio, the theatre’s studio stage, has shown several plays by Dianiška, including 1000 Things That Piss Me Off (a theatre adaptation of the blog of the same name), The Silence of the Beavers, Let Donna Graduate!, and Frankie the Armless. Tomáš Dianiška also acts in all the plays listed above. In addition to the Palmovka Theatre, Tomáš Dianiška also works as both an author and actor for several other Prague theatres, including MeetFactory, LETÍ Theatre, A Studio Rubín, Masopust, Chemical Theatre, X10 Theatre, and others. His production of The Silence of the Beavers won a nomination in the 2016 Czech Theatre Critics’ Survey. In that same critics’ circle, he also won the Talent of the Year award. In addition to his award-winning Trannies, Points, Seconds, the 2019 nominations for ‘Best Czech Play Staged for the First Time’ included his Frankie the Armless, co-written with Igor Orozovič. His success in the Theatre Critics’ Survey continued in the two years that followed – The Magnificent 294 won in 2020 and Špinarka in 2021, with two of his other plays (Burian and Action Film Encyclopaedia) receiving nominations.
DRAMA SECTION OF THE F. X. ŠALDA THEATRE It 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 in the Palmovka Theatre in Prague. The production of Sylva was created during the successful period when Šimon Dominik was artistic head (2016–2020). The company is now led by director Kateřina Dušková.