Václav Havel exhibition opens in New York

Václav Havel, photo: archive of Czech Radio

A new exhibition dedicated to the late Czech president, playwright and dissident Václav Havel will open at the National Bohemian Hall in New York on Thursday, launching a series of events marking the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

Václav Havel,  photo: archive of Czech Radio
I asked Miroslav Konvalina, head of Czech Centre New York, to tell me more about the programme and the opening event.

“This unique exhibition, entitled Václav Havel, Citizen and Dramatist, focuses on the premieres of Václav Havel’s plays from the beginning of the 1960s to the present, both on Czech and foreign stages.

“The exhibition also includes photographs and documents from Václav Havel’s life. It will be introduced by Edward Einhorn and short excerpts from Havel’s interviews will be read by members of the Untitled Theatre Company No. 61.

“The exhibition was prepared by Helena Albertová and The Art and Theatre Institute in Prague for Czech Centres as part of the upcoming anniversary.”

It is not the only exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution…

“The Czech Centre in New York will actually present two major exhibitions. The second one is prepared by the Czech National Museum especially for the US and other Czech centres in the world and it is called Velvet Revolution 1989.”

The series of events also include a performance of Audience, a one-act theatre play by Václav Havel. Where will the play be performed and who will be starring in it?

“The Kašpar Theatre Company is going to present Václav Havel’s play Audience with Jan Potměšil and Jakub Špalek in the roles of Vaněk and Sládek. The performance will take place at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan, New York, as part of the Rehearsal for Truth Festival, organised by the Václav Havel Foundation here in New York.”

What will be the highlight of the series of events marking the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution?

Bohemian National Hall,  photo: archive of Czech Centre New York
“The highlight of the celebrations will take place on Friday, November 8, with a diverse series of events at the Bohemian National Hall in New York, including a debate, guided tours of the Velvet Revolution exhibition, and a reception.

“The main part of the evening will be a concert of the legendary Czech band Spirituál Kvintet, who will perform in New York as part of their 60th and last concert tour season.

“The programme of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution will also include a special concert performed by the New York Mannes School of Music which will introduce Czech composers and premiere a new composition by a US-based composer in honour of Václav Havel.”