THE JOURNEY OF THE GOOD HANS BÖHM THROUGH EUROPE Hans Böhm speaks French, German and Czech at home as his parents and housemaids come from various backgrounds. Yet, at his favourite summer camp, they tell him the Germans are the best and other nations are inferior. He has his best friends there, especially Karel. They even play in a band together! Following in the footsteps of Good Soldier Švejk, this young man from Sudetenland is sent to war, but confusion reigns in his mind. Alas, the times are hard and he must make his decisions here and now. Decisions that mean life or death for him and the people he meets. Luckily, he speaks several languages! Especially Czech! This obscure language helps him to escape captivity and death by the skin of his teeth...… The anti-hero from a small town in West Bohemia (Holýšov) makes his way through war-torn Central Europe, but the end of the war brings no resolution…What is formative for our personality? How far would we go to save our lives? How strong are our ingrained moral imperatives?
The production is based on interviews conducted by Jan Jeňýk Valeš from Holýšov, an enthusiast interested in local history. He recorded (and in most cases verified) many stories of local people, including Sudeten Germans. Among them was the intricate and hard-to-believe story of Hubert Otto, who was born into a multilingual family. The creative team first discussed the individual topics with students, their target audience, and then prepared the stage adaptation for the Alfa Theatre. The production received the Erik Award at the 2021 One Flew Over the Puppeteer´s Nest festival and two awards at the 2022 Skupa’s Pilsen festival: Petra Kosová and Tomsa Legierski for their original production & direction concept and Karel Czech for his set design. The production also received a nomination for the 2022 Divadelní noviny Award.
Director Tomsa Legierski and dramaturge Petra Kosová based their production on the true story of Hans Böhm, a Sudeten German from a multicultural family. His mother was the daughter of a Belgian glassworks manager and his father a German gamekeeper. The servants spoke Czech and Hans learned English and Latin at school. The story follows him on his journey through war-torn Europe, where he faces crucial moral dilemmas. The theme resonates strongly in the current volatile situation in Europe and encourages reflection on the part of the audience. Simple puppets made of plain wood accentuate the motif of a subconscious need to re-discover the roots of simple human togetherness. The puppets’ limbs are separable from the bodies and thus allow the actors to use them imaginatively in space. The physical characteristics of the puppet change, yet it keeps its character. This creative approach, used moderately here, widens the range of gestures the puppets can make to evoke stronger emotions.
– LUDĚK HORKÝ, Divadelní noviny
The narration seems quite simple and unassuming at first but soon grows into a magnificent depiction of the horrid times and the search for hope. Indeed, director Tomsa Legierski and his entire team know precisely what message they want to convey, to whom and why. This story about the need for tolerance and the dangers of nationalism of all sorts and other ideologies that a priori label people is highly relevant today.
– MICHAL ZAHÁLKA, Loutkář
The actors’ mastered handling of the puppets and unpretentious minimalist performance are combined with playfulness, gentle poetry and wit. The production shows that in real life, history writes far more absurd stories than any fiction writer could possibly imagine.
– JANA SOPROVÁ, Divadelní noviny
TOMSA LEGIERSKI (1982) Director, actor, mime artist, performer. He got his bachelor’s degree in pantomime at HAMU and completed his studies of direction at the DAMU Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre under Josef Krofta and Jiří Havelka. He regularly organises pantomime courses and workshops in the Czech Republic and abroad and teaches at the DAMU Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre. His first guest direction at the Alfa Theatre in Pilsen was the production ALFA Farm (2018), partly inspired by George Orwell’s books and especially his dystopic novel Animal Farm, written in 1945. In 2020, he joined the Alfa Theatre as an in-house director. His productions in this position include The Sleeper and the Spindle, Fairy Tales from the Tricky Land, About Three Sons, The Journey of the Good Hans Böhm through Europe, Pádístepí, Chief of Bison and, most recently, About the Goldfish. In 2022, he directed a Czech-Polish co-production The Simulator in Białystok, Poland. Apart from the Alfa Theatre, Tomsa Legierski is also an actor and director at the Damúza Studio (Detective Magnifier and the Mysterious Tower, Superboy, etc.). As a guest actor or director, he further collaborated with the Ponec Theatre in Prague, Jatka 78 and the Small Theatre in České Budějovice. He regularly participates in summer theatre workshops for people with mental disability.
ALFA THEATRE The Children’s Theatre, the direct predecessor of the Alfa Theatre, was opened in 1966 in the premises of the Alfa Theatre on the Americká street. In 1992, the theatre moved to a modern building at Rokycanská 7 and was given its present name. The City of Pilsen is the founder of the theatre, which attracts a wide range of audiences, from kindergarten children to adults. Director Tomáš Dvořák and designer Ivan Nesveda defined and developed the original poetics of the Alfa Theatre for years. At the beginning of 2020, they were succeeded by director Tomsa Legierski and dramaturge Petra Kosová. The theatre ensemble has made more than a hundred tours abroad, including several weeks in Japan and Saudi Arabia with one of its most successful productions – The Three Musketeers. They will return to Japan this year and are also planning a visit to Hong Kong at the end of the year. The Alfa Theatre is a co-organiser of the Skupa’s Pilsen festival.