The Last of the Soviets
Svetlana Alexievich, Daniel MajlingDLOUHÁ THEATRE, Prague, CZE
- 17. 9.202217:00–19:50Grand Theatre
Duration: 170 min
THE LAST OF THE SOVIETS Svetlana Alexievich is a Belarusian investigative journalist and writer. Her work boarders on fiction, documentary and investigative journalism. She focuses mainly on dramatic events happening in the successor states of the former Soviet Union. Her books are composed of authentic interviews that illustrate the history of Homo Sovieticus, the ‘Red Man’, in its entirety and include The Unwomanly Face of War, Last Witnesses, Boys in Zinc, Voices from Chernobyl and Secondhand Time. In 2015, she became the very first Belarussian Nobel Prize laureate in Literature for her ‘polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time’.
Playwright Daniel Majling drew on the topics presented in Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets. Unlike the author, whose book includes a number of stories, he concentrates on the fate of a single establishment family whose members engaged in the Soviet regime in one way or another. Some remember it longingly and nostalgically, while others with frustration and disgust. Other characters reflect the characteristic motifs and archetypes inherent to Russian literature – self-sacrifice in the name of ideals, resignation and fatalism. The production presents the dark history behind the forging of the ‘new Soviet man’. As we know now, the process is far from over.
From the very first lines, a dark river of death, war and suffering flows beneath the dry, terse humour of family banter. It has soaked the soil on which the house stands, as well as the lives, souls and minds of the people living there. (...) Although the first six scenes are set in a rural dacha in 1989–1993, with the last scene taking place ten years later, Majling’s characters seem to bear the marks of the Russian story across the centuries. In the context of Russian culture, their characters can be perceived as archetypes. Or as literary tropes. (...) For example, the creative team cleverly works with references to the motifs of unfulfilled romantic love and the army in the Russian narrative, ironically showing how paradoxically, even perversely, one can perceive good and evil and treat concepts such as heroism, the enemy, sacrifice and patriotism.
– MARIE RESLOVÁ, Divadelní noviny
Vajdička’s production of The Last of the Soviets has become a chilling memento in the light of current events. It shows that evil is always ready and waiting to return.
– JANA MACHALICKÁ, Lidové noviny
‘Our man must never be given freedom. Otherwise, everything is f***ed,’ says one of the characters. While audience will be entertained by a number of well-acted comic situations, the end will send shivers down their spines.
– RADMILA HRDINOVÁ
MICHAL VAJDIČKA (1976) He worked as a lighting technician and professional light designer at the Drama Section of the Slovak National Theatre and in the Bratislava Dance Theatre from 1993. In 2004 he graduated in theatre directing under Petr Mikulík at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. While he was still a student, his production of The Lonesome West met with success at the international festival of theatre schools Setkání / Encounter in Brno and at the domestic festival Istropolitana. As a director he then worked with many Slovak and Czech theatres (Drama Section of the Slovak National Theatre, State Theatre in Košice, Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, Dejvice Theatre in Prague, Vinohrady Theatre in Prague, National Theatre Brno). From 2014 to 2016 he was the artistic director of the Dejvice Theatre, with which he has continued cooperating as a director from the 2011–2012 season onward. He later moved to the position of director of the Drama Section of the Slovak National Theatre (2018–2019), and in this season, he has become an in-house director of the Drama Section of the National Theatre in Prague. Two basic lines can be traced in his directorial work. The first focuses on producing classical drama (above all the plays of Chekhov, Shakespeare, Pirandello and the adaptation of works by Slánčiková-Timrava). The other focuses on contemporary foreign drama with an emphasis on the black comedies by Martin McDonagh and Irvine Welsh. Many of his productions have been presented at the Divadlo international festival: All for the Nation (Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, 2009), A Blockage in the System (Dejvice Theatre, 2012), The Kindly Ones (Slovak National Theatre, 2015), Resurrection (Dejvice Theatre, 2017) and Before Sunset (Slovak National Theatre, 2019).
DLOUHÁ THEATRE A repertoire theatre with a permanent company. It was created in 1996 and is funded by the City of Prague. The theatre is headed by managing director Daniela Šálková and the artistic team of director Hana Burešová and dramaturge Štěpán Otčenášek. Director Jan Borna, another founding member, died in January 2017. From 2017 to 2022, the directorial tandem SKUTR was involved in the theatre’s management. A basic feature of the theatre’s work is deliberate variety of style and genre. The productions make frequent use of the musical, singing and movement potential of the actors. In the spectrum of Czech theatres, the Dlouhá Theatre has defined itself as one that crosses the boundaries of standard drama in the direction of alternative, musical, puppet and cabaret theatre.