Selected Facts and Connections in Drama and Film Fiction Package
The authoress, using two visual works, i.e. theatre production #dubček and film Dubček (both 2018), compares two different approaches to and forms of the work with the personality of Alexander Dubček against the backdrop of the reforms and political upheaval in Czecho-Slovakia1, in 1968. Theatre production #dubček (Aréna Theatre, Bratislava, direction Michal Skočovský) has three levels. The first one is acting game having the form of a rehearsal of a new text about the politician Alexander Dubček; its component part is the projection of period archival film shots. The second level involves the actors stepping out of characters and commenting on Dubček’s attitude and on historical events. The third level entails monologue scenes, in which actors reveal their personal attitudes via narrated stories at the time of normalization2 which had a negative impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In the film Dubček (Slovak-Czech co-production, direction Ladislav Halama), through Dubček’s reminiscing the past, political events interweave with the scenes from the life of Dubček’s family. Although both the works employ period image documentary material and fiction, they fail to create a dramatic conflict and they are illustrative for the bigger part.
The authoress was intrigued by the book of a young theatre historian Karol Mišovic who, through the fates of the characters rendered on the stage of the Slovak National Theatre by its former first ladies guides the reader through the first stage of the modern history of Slovak theatre. He paints a panoramic picture of their professional theatre careers, based on the archive materials from the 1940s onwards. A vivid narration reveals the characters rendered by Mária Prechovská, Eva Kristinová, Viera Strnisková, Zdena Gruberová and Eva Poláková, the work of directors against the backdrop of a changing society and it poses a number of open questions regarding the role of the theatre during the breakthrough periods of Slovak society.
The production of the play by Bulgarian playwright Yordan Radichkov An Attempt at Flying (premiered on 22 March 1980 at the Pavol Orzságh Hviezdoslav Theatre) is one of the most successful plays in the history of Slovak National Theatre Drama. The text-metaphor of the old age longing of mankind to fly and to recognize the unrecognizable, even for just a moment, offers on the axis of “magical realism” or grotesque realism”, in the words of the author, a humanistic picture of life and ideas in which the characters live their everyday life, they start a magical fantasy game and express many truths of the life. This article draws attention to the production of director Pavel Haspra through analysis of the play’s text, the production script and the TV recording of one of the last stage performances. Altogether over six years (from March 1980 to June 1987), 148 performances took place, both domestic and Czech critics writing about the extraordinary acting of all the participants. One cannot omit the significance and theatrical contribution of Vladimir Suchánek’s scenography vision with several symbolic and metaphorical dimensions (a hay cart hanging in the air, through which the villagers, who longed for just a moment of freedom, fulfilled their dreams).
In the 1940s the Drama Company of the Slovak National Theatre introduced four poetry productions, which demonstrated the stage potential of the symbiosis of verse and a music-accompanied recitation in an original stage design solution. The single presentation of poetry of Poézia revolúcie a boja [The Poetry of Revolution and Fight, 1945] directed by Ján Jamnický and Pásmo poézie Janka Jesenského [The Show of Poetry by Janko Jesenský, 1946] directed by Jozef Budský were the first independent attempts at staging selected poetry. Besides recitation, they were dominated by the visual sign, powerful music sometimes accompanied by the singing of individuals and a voice band, and distinctive lighting design. Botto’s Smrť Jánošíkova [The Death of Jánošík] and Sládkovič’s Marína (both in 1948) directed by Jozef Budský displayed all features of synthetic theatre, combining recitation, voice band singing, scenic and visual solutions, metaphor, originally composed music inspired by the folk song, dance, film screening, and meaningful lighting. Jozef Budský indirectly built on Czech theatre, particularly on E. F. Burian. Both masterpieces by the authors of Štúr’s generation (Ján Botto, Andrej Sládkovič) aroused the interest of the expert public and the audience. It triggered arguments about excessive directorial intervention and insufficient ideological character, especially in the theatre form of Marína.