January 1937: Karel Čapek’s ‘The White Disease’ premiers at National Theatre in Prague

Premiere of ‘The White Disease’ in 1937

The “The White Disease” is one of Karel Čapek’s most important works. It is as pertinent today as it was when it premiered 85 years ago.

Karel Čapek’s ‘The White Disease’ (Bílá nemoc), which first performed in January 1937 at the National Theatre in Prague, was a dark satirical send-up of fascism and opportunism, set against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic. The antimilitary utopian play was as prescient then as it is topical today, in the time of coronavirus.

Playwright Karel Čapek wrote it on the brink of World War II as a warning against the onset of Nazism. It reflects the struggle between democratic ideals and the interests of omnipotent and powerful dictators and shows how easy it is to infect people with fear and manipulate them.

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