National Theatre managers call for culture minister’s dismissal

Jiří Balvín and Jan Burian, photo: CTK

Last week’s sacking of Jan Burian as head of the National Theatre and subsequent backtracking is a situation which has not been fully resolved. Although Mr Burian agreed to tentatively return to the post after Culture Minister Jiří Balvín rescinded his decision, for some – namely top management at the theatre and actors who quit in protest– Mr Burian’s return will not be enough.

Richard Krajčo,  photo: Jana Chládková,  ČRo
They insist the culture minister must be sacked immediately for what they charge was gross incompetence and warn the situation at the theatre will not return to normal earlier. Well-known singer, musician and actor Richard Krajčo:

“As I said before I am willing to return only if Mr Balvin leaves.”

Krajčo is not alone among those who quit last week in protest: in all, a group of around 20 talented actors say they will not return unless the culture minister gies. If they stay away, along with key managers, it is difficult to imagine the autumn season going ahead. Michal Dočekal was until recently the artistic director at the National Theatre who also quit in protest.

“Mr Balvín negatively affected the theatre to such a degree and showed such incompetence in his position that we see his departure as a necessity.”

Jiří Rusnok,  photo: CTK
But Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok, heading an interim cabinet which has not yet received won a confidence vote is having none of it – at least for the time being,

He suggested on Monday that if such demands were heeded, anyone could soon come forward with similar threats.

“Soon we could have train drivers coming forward and members of other professions saying they want a new transport minister, which would lead to complete chaos.”

Jiří Balvín and Jan Burian,  photo: CTK
Jan Burian, before he takes up the post officially, has eight demands of his own, first among them the return of the management overseeing drama, opera and ballet, and second, for the Culture Ministry not to meddle in the National Theatre but to communicate through a new committee of guarantors. Even his return, then, is far from certain. What is clear is that some kind of solution will have to found and found quickly. If not, while it seems unthinkable the theatre could remain closed it is hard to imagine a new season – without actors, without management, going ahead.