Prague’s Švanda Theatre to present play written by robot on a US tour

Švanda Theatre

Earlier this week, part of Prague’s Švanda Theatre ensemble embarked on a two-week tour of the Unites States. In addition to two productions representing contemporary Czech drama, the Smíchov theatre group will also present a brand new theatrical text written by artificial intelligence.

On the last day of May, part of the theatre ensemble of the Prague-based Švanda Theatre boarded a plane to Chicago, where they will stage two contemporary Czech productions over the next few days.

Pankrác 45 | Photo: Ivo Dvořák,  Švanda Theatre

One of the plays, performed in Czech with English subtitles, is the famous one-act drama Audience by the late president and dissident playwright Václav Havel.

The other is a contemporary piece called Pankrác 45, says director of the Švanda Theatre, Daniel Hrbek:

“It is a play written by Martina Kinská and it has been on the repertoire of the Švanda Theatre for the past seven years. It is about Czech actresses Adina Mandlová and Lída Baarová who were imprisoned in Pankrác after WWII for collaboration with the Nazis.

Pankrác 45 | Photo: Ivo Dvořák,  Švanda Theatre

“We presented the play in Washington three years ago and surprisingly it really resonated with the US audiences. So it was very successful and there was even a US company which staged its own version of the play.”

The staging of both Czech productions of the Švanda Theatre will also be part of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Masaryk Czech School in Chicago and the 10th Annual Conference of Czech Schools in North America.

During their tour, the Švanda Theatre will also present their unique THEaiTRE project. It was created last year on the occasion of the centenary of Karel Čapek’s famous play Rossum’s Universal Robots and was a world premiere of a play written by artificial intelligence, called AI: When a Robot Writes a Play.

Daniel Hrbek and Rudolf Rosa | Photo: Richard Moučka,  Švanda Theatre

As part of the project the Švanda Theatre will stage a brand new theatrical piece written by artificial intelligence, called Permeation, prepared in collaboration with local artists. Daniel Hrbek again.

“Along with experts from Charles University and Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague we tried to develop a new play with AI last year, using some new knowledge we have about artificial intelligence.

“The play will have a world premiere at the Václav Havel Rehearsal for Truth festival in New York on June 12. The director is New York-based director Erwin Maas and some actors from Švanda Theatre will also take part.”

AI: When a Robot Writes a Play | Photo: Alena Hrbková,  Švanda Theatre

This Thursday, a special theatre workshop presented by Švanda Theatre is due to take place at the University of Chicago. Among the speakers will be Rudolf Rosa, a researcher from Charles University’s Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, who will talk about the possibilities of artificial intelligence in the field of playwriting.

The Švanda Theatre ensemble are due to return to Prague from their US tour on June 14.