Alliance for New Music-Theatre Presents ‘The Václav Havel Project’ May 7-8,11,14-15 &18th

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Alliance for New Music-Theatre Presents:
The Václav Havel Project

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“Artful. Brilliant. Irreverent. Simple, yet genius. Everything – from the writing to the stage direction and the acting itself – is a marvel to watch in the Alliance for New Music-Theatre’s salute to Vaclav Havel.”  DC Theatre Scene

“The cast is pitch-perfect… Michael and Vera’s furious responses to Vaněk’s ambivalence are both hilarious in their disproportionateness and chilling in their ferocity.” DCMetroTheaterArts

“It was a collaborative performance by talented American actors under the direction of prominent Czech physical theatre actress Miřenka Čechová. I am certain that … audiences will… be moved by the interpretation, talent, and powerful theatre presented by this group of American actors.”    Ambassador Petr Gandalovič.

“If you want to get to know Václav Havel, see his plays.” Madeleine Albright, 2013 at the dedication of The Vaclav Havel Garden, Georgetown University

Václav Havel. (Photo by Chris Niedenthal/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images).
Václav Havel. (Photo by Chris Niedenthal/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images).

People have been saying that The Václav Havel Project is a must-see piece of theatre since the show’s opening in September 2013 as part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival in Washington D.C., sponsored by the Czech Embassy, in celebration of the man and his legacy. In addition to the public performances, Ambassador Gandalovič and the Czech Embassy sponsored a special “apartment performance” at the Ambassador’s residence for dignitaries that included Dagmar Havlová, Havel’s widow.

Now you can be part of the excitement.

In May, 2014 Alliance for New Music-Theatre brings back Unveiling presenting it in a double bill with the world premiere of a new short work of music-theatre, Vaněk Unleashed for ten performances before the show travels to the prestigious Prague Fringe Festival at the end of May (performances May 27th-31st).

Michael (Ron Heneghan) and Vera (Susan Galbraith) entertain their old friend Ferdinand Vanek (Drew Valins) in an evening where everyone gets more than they bargained for in 'Unveiling.' Photo by HilsdonPhotography.
Michael (Ron Heneghan) and Vera (Susan Galbraith) entertain their old friend Ferdinand Vanek (Drew Valins) in an evening where everyone gets more than they bargained for in ‘Unveiling.’ Photo by HilsdonPhotography.

Unveiling is one of Havel’s most popular plays and features a bourgeois couple entertaining their friend, Ferdinand Vaněk, a dissident playwright who discovers in that one evening that since his political imprisonment the world has grown into a slippery and chaotic place.  The central character represents to some degree the dramatic alter ego of the playwright, who observes society around him, enduring painfully funny angst in his alienation. The plays also explore the issues of integrity, morality and responsibility.

Miřenka Čechová, who wowed D.C. audiences with her solo work, S/He is Nancy Joe, winning recognition as “Best of Dance 2012” in the Washington Post, was its director.

Meghan McCall, Drew Valins, Pamela Jusino, Ron Heneghan in 'Vaněk Unleashed', part of 'The Vaclav Havel Project.'
Meghan McCall, Drew Valins, Pamela Jusino, Ron Heneghan in ‘Vaněk Unleashed’, part of ‘The Vaclav Havel Project.’ Photo by HilsdonPhotography.

Vaněk Unleashedcomposed by Maurice Saylor and written and directed by Susan Galbraith, is a uniquely American response to the same, most beloved central character of Vaněk, In this work the Alliance adds to the tradition that includes playwrights Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard  of paying tribute to Havel by making Vaněk a universal character. Audiences will find Vaněk still struggling with issues of the slipperiness of identity as he careens imaginatively between prison and the more terrifying and absurd world outside. However, the work takes its performance style from two of our own country’s most popular forms, the American musical and silent screen comedy, in particular the work of Harry Langdon, who sits in the pantheon of clown greats with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. It was said of Langdon that his film persona seemed to have been dropped to earth without a set of instructions. That could be said of our man Vaněk.

The production will be augmented by a special photographic essay exhibit by Jan Kaspar, a close friend of Havel and photographer who closely documented c his life as a dissident. Post performance discussions will allow audience member to share their ideas and interpretations of Václav Havel and these works.

From Artistic Director Susan Galbraith:

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Sometimes the Stars Align…

How this project grows and grows. Not only has the EU Delegation chosen to feature us for their “Passport” to celebrate the month of May’s Big EU month of cultural happenings (40,000 people!) but Czech television came not one but two nights for prime SPOTS (plural) and Czech Radio wants interviews. And now the FINAL niche at the Capitol will be dedicated to Vaclav Havel in November. It’s thrilling to feel part (however small)  of something so big. The more I read the more I learn about this amazing man. And how inspiring with all he did and all he meant to the world, that his first love was still theatre, and his approach to theatre was political without being polemic, humane without being sentimental, and finally spiritual – without the didacticism and exclusive garbage.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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Performances of Unveiling  and Vaněk Unleashed will be presented  together for 10 performances in D.C. at the Artisphere-1101 Wilson Boulevard, in Arlington, VA. 

          Wednesday, May 7th at 7  p.m.* and a Late Show at 9:30 p.m.*
          Thursday, May 8th at 7 p.m. (Opening Reception & Press Night) * and a Late Show at 9:30 p.m.*
Sunday, May 11th at 2 p.m. (Matinee).
          Wednesday, May 14th at 7 p.m. and a Late Show at 9:30 p.m.
          Thursday, May 15th at 7 p.m. and a Late Show at 9:30 p.m.
          Sunday, May 18th at 2 p.m. (Matinee).

* The first four shows (May 7-8th) will have live music accompanying Vaněk Unleashed from The Snark Ensemble, Washington’s most enchanting musical ensemble, whose members have composed and performed more than 30 silent film scores. They will treat audiences to a blend of boogie land jazz and musical slapstick comedy.

The plays together will run two hours, including one intermission.

Tickets are between $20-$30. Call 202-966-3104 for tickets and more information.

On Opening Night on Thursday, May 8th at 7 p.m, there will be a special reception beforehand starting at 6 p.m. in Artisphere’s Ballroom that will include welcoming remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission of the Czech Republic, Jaroslav Zajicek, and an opportunity to enjoy Prague’s favorite beer Pilsner Urquell.  Please RSVP to  202-966-3104. For more information  about Alliance for new Music-Theatre visit www.newmusictheatre.org  

The article is by Susan Galbraith and Janice Kaplan.

LINKS

Backstage in Preparation for ‘The Václav Havel Project’ by Susan Galbraith on DCMetroTheaterArts.

‘The Václav Havel Project: Antiwords and Unveiling’ at Alliance for New Music-Theatre at Atlas Performing Arts Center by Justin Schneider (Review on DCMetroTheaterArts.