The study represents the life and artistic career of today’s almost forgotten theatre director Milan Svoboda (1883 – 1948). It is based on the extensive Svoboda estate, located in the Theatre Department of the National Museum. It follows the artist from his amateur beginnings in Roudnice nad Labem, through his career as a pedagogue at the Prague Conservatory, theatre director at the Slovak National Theatre, guest director at the National Theatre in Prague, to his post-war effort to create high-quality stage art in the border villages abandoned by the Germans. Thanks to the substantial and rich material found in his estate, the study demonstrates the conflict of creative ideals and the desire to seek an aesthetic beauty in a world within a regimented state, grand political scheming, critics and “progressive” theatrical colleagues.
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.