Disk 39 (March 2012)


At first, we publish an article “What or Who Is in Danger. About the Development of Production in Free Networks (and not only there)” by ing. Václav Hanžl, CSc., who teaches at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Czech Technical University. The article seems to touch upon the issues we deal with in this magazine only marginally at the first sight, yet it is something essentially important not only from a general and social point of view. The article about the possibility of free communication of people in the world computer network very closely links to the central topic of the magazine – scenicity and staging. From this point of view, the world computer network –metaphorically – represents an important scene with ambiguity of a stage and an auditorium as well as ambivalence of a stage and setting. It is a space for purpose like staging of all kinds, i.e. application, sales and non commercial sharing of (un-fortunately) anything as well as space for production and creative communication among contemporary people and world with their natural scenicity including demonstration, appearance, revelation and discovery. Regarding the mix of the scenic and merely staged of something that deserves attention and something what is unworthy and harmful, a computer network is a reflection of this world and life as well as a place where this world and life really takes place or happens. This network is always a reflection of the world – not just ‘as such’ but also by what is demonstrated in a fight about its functioning which equates the means of its existence or its (free) existence as such.

In his article, Václav Hanžl describes a wave of creativity broken out by possibilities of free communication be-tween people in the worldwide computer network, unexpected success of seemingly utopian visions and fragile de-pendence of historically unique results of this work on future maintenance of freedom which were natural, yet, concern-ing the growing importance of the network, they have been more and more endangered by legislative attempts of regulation and censorship. It describes history of the GNU project from the formulation of “The GNU Manifesto” at the beginning to overwhelming world success in the present with an important influence on the future development of interpersonal communication and industrial infrastructure of the world and seeks parallels in other disciplines where this success has been repeated (while creating the biggest existing encyclopaedia – Wikipedia) or it could be repeated (speaking about a more transparent management of a company, we can add – when applying results of art production without mediators who earn most money on it and they have the power to guide natural demand for their – business as well as ideological and power – interest). The author perceives legislative attempts like DMCA, SOPA or ACTA very critically because they could turn into the very opposite of promoted support of creativity and destroy those results achieved by people before the authors of the acts noticed.

In the last issue, we paid great – and intentional – attention to Karel Čapek as a theatremaker. It was his complex activity in the Vinohrady Theatre as a dramaturge (in Klára Novotná’s contribution) and a director (in Hana Novák-ová’s text). We remind you of these two articles in connection with Jana Cindlerová’s study “The White Disease as a Dramaturgic Problem” printed in this issue because the topic itself allowed the authors to at least foreshadow real roots of Čapek’s theatre activity (including the authorial one). At the first sight, it is not developed from literature but from the tradition of mime and folk comedy. Reflection of Čapek’s specific scenic sense allowed Jana Cindlerová to review the usual genre classification of The White Disease (it is the similar case like the Makropulos Case she wrote about in Disk 33 in connection with an unusual great number of its contemporary performances): this classification was born from ‘literary’ reading of a play, i.e. reading which sees its qualities through affiliation to a drama under-stood as a literary genre. Such perception of The White Disease is reinforced by superficially apprehended historical connotations that prevent to interpret this play in Čapek’s theatre feeling as well as comic tradition ranking from Shaw to Dürrenmatt; a reminder of the author of The Visit is enough to see that the comic basis of The White Disease is manifested in a sufficiently nuanced way and with proverbial bitterly grotesque impression.

The whole series of text is dedicated to Otomar Krejča. Contributions from the symposium, which took place on 21st November 2011 in the Small Hall of the Municipal Library on the occasion of his 90th birthday, served as a basis for the below mentioned articles. The symposium was organized by the Municipal Library and the Institute for Dra-matic and Scenic Production at the DAMU and the main thanks goes to employees of the theatre department in the Municipal Library Dr. Marie Valterová and Helena Pinkerová. Organization of the symposium would have been impossible without participation of director Helena Glancová and dramaturge Karel Kraus who is an excellent profes-sional to talk about dedicated characteristics of “Krejča’s Theatre” (like the article of the same name). In his contribu-tion “O. Krejča and Tradition of 20th Century Art Theatre”, Prof. Jan Hyvnar classifies this theatre and possibility for its existence into a corresponding context which does not currently exist in his opinion. In the article “Of Otomar Krejča’s Acting”, Zuzana Sílová analyzes the basic features of Krejča’s acting: we deal with the effort to “approximate to the character as much as possible” when an actor “remains himself without exposing himself and playing himself: he does not surrender ‘to his voice, gestures, body, thinking or laughter and sadness’ – he provides everything for ideas about a person that belongs to him and a playwright as well.”

Actor Krejča became a director when he was the Artistic Director of the National Theatre drama from 1956 to 1961. Prof. Jan Císař follows exceptionally successful Krejča’s period and sources of its success in his contribution “Otomar Krejča – Artistic Director and Ringmaster”. When Krejča was the Artistic Director, the National Theatre Drama changed into a “generously and purposefully managed institution which stands on principles of drama as one of the fundamental axis of European drama production when the top and sovereign focal point is the interest in an acting person whose world experience is a self discovery in the world.” Císař speaks about continuity of Stanislavsky, Copeau and pre war Czech modern style of directing and he appreciates Krejča’s “generosity of a ringmaster who creates conditions that allow the others to demonstrate their own art as well as results of those deeds and become an inseparable part that creates the whole.” We can rightfully call this unit Krejča’s period in the National Theatre Drama. It was a period when “the National Theatre Drama had a huge influence on the whole drama theatre not only in the fight against dogmatic and utilitarian understanding of art (theatre) as a political tool” as well as non violent connection of novelty and tradition in the sense of using exceptional acting potential of a company and its gradual (personal and artistic) renewal.

Other two texts (“From August Sunday to Romeo and Juliet” by Helena Albertová and Jana Patočková’s “About Overcoming Obstacles”) speak about Krejča’s cooperation with stage designer Josef Svoboda. The first one maps their cooperation in the National Theatre Drama, the second one deals with the period in the Theatre Beyond the Gate and both of them provide an overview of Krejča’s work in these two theatres. They also enable characteristics of Krejča’s attitude and complete contributions of those, who had the possibility to observe his methods: Dalimil Klapka speaks about Krejča – teacher, Eva Kröschlová deals with Krejča – director because she had a chance to cooperate with him in the Theatre Beyond the Gate I and II and the former S. K. Neumann Theatre, Vít Vencl was Krejča’s assistant in the Theatre Beyond the Gate II and Lumír Olšovský experienced Krejča’s work as an actor. Zdena Benešová’s contribution is a (sad) ending. Benešová writes about the archive of the Theatre Beyond the Gate and this piece together with Vít Vencl’s exchange of opinions becomes a tiny yet typical portrayal of the relation of post 1989 state institutions with protection of Czech cultural traditions (and their development).

A smaller block of (three) contributions deals with Czech musicals. The article by Pavel Bár and Michael Prostě-jovský speaks about so called ‘Czech’ or ‘Prague’ musical as an original phenomenon (the article is called “A ‘Czech’ Musical Phenomenon”). According to authors, its form has been influenced by three factors. Firstly, it is a result of cultural confinement of the past regime which banned a normal way of dealing with foreign (‘Western’, i.e. ideologically doubtful) influences and contributed to interruption of possible continuity (The Wondermaking Pot – Czech version of Harburg’s, Sady’s and Lane’s Finian’s Rainbow – brought by Voskovec and Werich from their emigration was actually the first American musical staged in continental Europe in 1948). Secondly, it is a result of insufficient readiness for this kind of production (authors also open a question of the absence of a musical training at the Theatre Faculty in Prague referring to positive results of this practice in Brno and Jiří Frejka’s late project). Thirdly, “finances and economic operation” linked with ‘official’ evaluation of the role of this theatre in a cultural network play an essential role not speaking about the level of the ‘framework’ itself: this framework allows the attitude with the aim of commercial production of easy (i.e. the least demanding) satisfaction of non particular market of entertainment ‘events’. However, can we summarize authors’ argumentation that the phenomenon they are writing about is a result of famous yet specifically updated Czech conditions? Jana Machalická, a journalist in the cultural section in the Lidové noviny newspaper, perceives the conditions of Czech musicals critically and we asked her to write a review of the above mentioned article and in the end, we agreed on its extended version as one article. Recall-ing the article of Pavel Bár and Hana Nováková about musical productions in Berlin and other continuously pub-lished essays and studies dedicated to this mighty theatre genre, we hope there will be future discussion.

The third block of contributions is dedicated (with regard to articles and studies published continuously) to creat-ing the image about contemporary foreign drama productions (i.e. the means of specific staging of one’s existence). Three typical movements are intentionally represented here: Tereza Šefrnová wrote an extensive article about Broadway drama boulevard (“Drama on the 45th West Street, New York”), Jitka Pelechová (“Gwenaël Morin: Theatre and Polis”) writes about the French representative of theatre we once called a studio, which does not lack features of theatre “beuysianism” (tickets for free, amateurs playing) – and this is why Morin is interesting for us, whereas in her article “From Theatre Vienna”, Petra Honsová writes about activities of traditional – ensemble’ – drama theatre (with its various nuances) which is typical for Central Europe: it represents one of basic stones of Middle European culture. However, it has been recently experiencing difficulties due to various reasons; a consequence of all those reasons and impacts is ‘middle stream’ which is usually connected with theatre teenage years of its judges who have no idea about those reasons and impacts or various forms of such theatre.

Disk 39 is concluded by Jan Hančil’s review on Matthew H. Wikander’s book Fangs of Malice with the subtitle Hypocrisy, Sincerity, and Acting and a notice by Denisa Vostrá about Hokusai’s exhibition in Berlin. We also publish new Lenka Lagronová’s play Jane.