First Theatre World Brno festival kicks off with complete works of Václav Havel

Photo: CTK

The first year of what looks set to become the biggest annual theatrical event in the country launched at the weekend. The nine-day Theatre World Festival in Brno will feature ensembles from a dozen countries. However, the main attraction comes from the Czech Republic, in the form of the complete works of playwright-president Václav Havel, some of which will receive their world premiere.

There is no better place for an annual international dramatic festival, say the organisers of Theatre World Brno. Throughout this week, the Czech Republic’s second city will be the scene of more than 200 performances and a rich accompanying programme that many a Praguer will be sure to envy. So when I spoke with the festival’s director Sylvie Pospišilová I asked her, why Brno?

Photo: CTK
“Just tell me why not! It’s very well located, geographically speaking, and also because there are five big theatre institutions, which is really unusual for a city of that size.”

So do you intend for it to really be an important staple of theatre life in the Czech Republic?

“We would love that. Of course, this is the first year, so we don’t really know if we will manage to do that. But our ambition is to make it very big – and even now it is the biggest theatre festival in the Czech Republic. So, though it is not the capital, we would really love to make Brno the most important festival venue for theatre in the country.”

The first year of Theatre World Brno begins with an unprecedented draw: with the presentation of the complete works of Václav Havel. A similar event was held in New York last year, but surprisingly this will be the first time it has been done in the former president’s homeland. The programme includes not only performances staged by Mr Havel’s favourite directors, but also readings and documentaries, and most tantalisingly two theatre pieces that have never been seen before: the one-act plays “Five Aunts” and “The Pig”. So how did the fledgling festival win itself such an opportunity as to dip into the desk drawers of Václav Havel?

Václav Havel after Divadlo Husa na provázku performed his play 'The Pig',  photo: CTK
“There is a close relationship between Václav Havel and Brno’s Goose on a String Theatre, or Divadlo Husa na provázku. So it’s a very personal attachment to that theatre, and when Havel learned that we were going to dedicate this festival to him, he gave his ok to use anything he has written before. And he also said that he wanted his newest play, ‘The Pig’, to be staged by the Goose on a String Theatre.”

As for the president himself, he said he was exceptionally pleased by the attention to his work, and called the festival a “great adventure” for its eclectic programme of original events, theatrical and otherwise. Visitors will have the opportunity to see what he means until Saturday, June 19.