Dagmar Havlova to return to stage in 'Moment of Truth'

Dagmar Havlova, photo: David Port, MFDnes, 3.1.06

Just a month ago former First Lady Dagmar Havlova - wife of playwright and ex-president Vaclav Havel - admitted she was suffering serious health problems - with her thyroid gland and her heart - requiring quiet and rest. That clearly hasn't prevented the former First Lady from going ahead with plans to return to the stage: in the spring she will appear in a tragicomedy written by US playwright Israel Horovitz. It will be the first time theatre fans will be able to see the actress on stage since 1997.

Nine years away from the 'prkna' - or boards - as the stage is known colloquially in Czech is a long time, yet despite interrupting a rich acting career, actress Dagmar Havlova has remained one of the Czech Republic's most watched celebrities. Over 22 years Mrs Havlova - or Veskrnova as she was then - appeared in countless productions, including more than 50 film and 200 TV appearances, such as Karel Smyczek's TV series "We Were Five" and Vera Chytilova's 1993 film Dedictvi: kurvahosigutentag in which she played a village waitress in love with an overbearing but comic drunk played by famous comedian Bolek Polivka.

Dagmar Havlova in Strindberg's Queen Kristina,  photo: CTK
In '97, though, the actress took on a far different role: that of First Lady. Veskrnova married then President Vaclav Havel on January 4th, changing how she was viewed by the public almost overnight. Since then, with the exception of a short series performance in Strindberg's Queen Kristina which raised funds for victims of the 1997 floods, Mrs Havlova devoted herself to charity events, creating her own foundation Vize '97, concerned with issues such as human rights, fighting racial intolerance and disease, as well as protecting the environment. Those activities will apparently remain Mrs Havlova's major focus, as even now her return to the stage will be more an exception than a permanent return. On Monday she told one paper she was simply looking forward to acting again - for the audience's pleasure as well as her own.

The play's premiere has been set for the beginning of March: for the first time Czech theatregoers will be able to see work by well-known US playwright Israel Horovitz. Titled "Moment of Truth" the play is reportedly a tragicomedy for just two actors: one, an aging music and English-language professor whose life is enriched by the other: a housekeeper with a markedly different worldview. The production is being directed by Martin Stropnicky and Mrs Havlova's partner on stage will be Petr Kostka.