Premiere of Havel’s Leaving just one of Czech cultural events taking place in London this autumn

Václav Havel

The English language and international premiere of Václav Havel’s latest play Leaving takes place in London this Friday. It is part of a season focused on the former president’s work which is being organised in conjunction with London’s Czech Centre. I discussed the Havel season, and other highlights of this autumn’s programme, with the centre’s director, Ladislav Pflimpfl.

“It’s a season dedicated to the work of Václav Havel, and we’re doing the English and international premiere of Leaving, directed by Sam Walters. He’s the director of the Orange Tree Theatre, which was premiering Václav Havel’s work in the ‘70s. It’s a cosy, 200-seat theatre in Richmond.

“They will present four or five more Havel plays. We also have a talk with President Havel and Sir John Tusa at the British Library later in September, and exhibitions and screenings accompanying the season.

“Another event that I think is worth mentioning is our participation in the Zoo Art Fair festival [in mid-October]. This is the first time we have a full-blooded presentation of a Czech art gallery, the Hunt and Kastner Gallery, bringing two or three artists.”

What kind of art is that – is it modern art?

“It’s very much contemporary, modern art. Both artists are in the 30-plus generation. They are coming with paintings, videos, ceramics and stills.

"We also have Jiří Kovanda, who is a different generation. He is an established artist who is going to have a presentation and a performance, plus a talk at the Czech Centre, which I think is a major event for the international, London visual arts scene, and very much a premiere for the Czech Centre as well.”

Also I saw on your website there’s an exhibition featuring Czech glass.

“Oh yes, that’s a Czech glass exhibition that is touring the UK. This is the second exhibition of the same collection. Its very interesting because it actually involves not only the work of students but also their teachers.

"The idea is to follow how the art and mastery of the teachers is being followed by the students. That’s another event that is being accompanied by talks and presentations.”

Jan and Zdeněk Svěrák
What about from the world of Czech film – have you got anything coming up this autumn?

“We have coming up one major film festival. It’s a traditional film festival being organised by the Czech Centre for the 12th time, at the Riverside Studios. We are going to bring Jan and Zdeněk Svěrák’s film as a season, a tribute to their work.

"It’s going to last four days, we will have a few feature films with both Svěráks hopefully coming to London to introduce their work. I’m convinced it’s going to be hugely popular with both the Czech and British audience.”