The Beggar's Opera - Václav Havel wrote "The Beggar’s Opera" in 1972 at Prague’s "Činoherní klub theatre". It was his fourth play. The reason it was not in the end shown was doubtless the theatre’s justified fear of working with a banned author. Havel did see the premiere of his play some time later, however, when it was performed on 1 November 1975 in the pub “U Čelikovských” in Horní Počernice. The play is based on John Gay’s original, but what Gay and Brecht tells the audience by means of music and songs, Václav Havel puts into the mouths of the characters as they speak to each other. “I wrote it quickly, in a relaxed mood and with gusto, without unnecessary speculation and not held back by the feeling that everything was at stake. The possibilities hidden in my model, and the hope – albeit hazy – that the play would be staged made my work easier, understandably. I like the play, and it seems to me to have a feeling of vitality, something confirmed by the favourable reception that it met with among my friends and acquaintances,” Václav Havel wrote of the Beggar’s Opera in 1977. Špinar’s adaptation of Havel’s text is its eleventh stage version. The breadth of genre classification to which it has lent itself is shown by the following subtitles: The Beggar’s Opera, A Mafia Grotesque (in Hradec Králové), The Beggar’s Opera or Václav Havel’s Brilliant Text (Daniel Špinar’s provocative production) and finally The Beggar’s Opera or A Wild Ride in an American Cabriolet on the Waves of Czech Absurd Humour.
About the director of the play "The Beggar's Opera": Daniel Špinar – After studying acting he also studied drama direction at DAMU. In 2002 he and his colleagues from DAMU founded VALMET Theatre, a civic association. In 2003 he won the Reflex magazine award for best actor at the ZLOMVAZ student festival. He drew attention with his student productions of "HOMO 06" or "Who’s Friends With Gays Too" (2006) and his production of "Visit From the Experts" (the Bondy Hut project, 2007). He is also the author of successful dramatisations – he was nominated for an Evald Schorm award for his dramatisation of Dostoyevsky’s "The Brothers Karamazov" in the DISK Theatre (2007), and in 2010 for an Alfréd Radok award in the Text of the Year category for his production of "The Medea Affair". In 2008 – 2010 he worked as an in-house director at the Vinohrady Theatre, where he staged Büchner's "Woyzeck". The production won an Alfréd Radok critics' award in 2009. Since 2010 he has worked freelance, focusing on modern productions of classic texts. His productions include: The Salome Affair, 2009, A studio Rubín, Masquerade, 2010, Klicpera Theatre, Hradec Králové, Hedda Gabler, 2010, Švanda Theatre, Prague, The Seagull, 2010, The Miser, 2010, F. X. Šalda Theatre, Liberec, City Theatre, Kladno, The Medea Affair, 2011, A studio Rubín, To Be Or Not To Be, 2011, National Theatre, Prague, The Taming Of The Shrew, 2011, Summer Shakespeare Festival at Prague Castle, Morgiana, 2012, Klicpera Theatre, Hradec Králové, Anna Karenina and Cabaret Kafka in 2012 in the Reduta Theatre, and others.
You could say, rather grandly, that Špinar’s Beggar’s Opera could become one of the milestones in staging Havel’s plays. Statements like this immediately after a premiere tend to be dangerous – but the Klicpera Theatre has shown pretty clearly that it is quite possible to preserve the spirit and content of a play without having to believe the author’s every order, wish and stage direction. In the case of a playwright like Václav Havel this is a somewhat less self-evident truth than you might think.
Michal Zahálka, Hospodářské noviny
It is a joy to watch the Klicpera’s actors as they tackle their demanding tasks. Jiří Zapletal in the role of the beneficiary Peachum is perhaps most successful in playing with the finesses of Havel’s language, full of paradoxes, subtle shifts in meaning and legendary repetitions. He manoeuvres precisely on the border of ambiguous stances, making us unsure what conclusion he is heading to in his intrigues. He is convincingly seconded by Martina Nováková as his life partner (she also plays the smaller role of Lockit’s wife), a masterful co-conspirator and thoroughly empathetic supervisor of her daughter’s love life (when the latter is in keeping with the “higher” interests of crime). Also glittering with clever creation is Pavlína Štorková as the refined prostitute Jenny, who manages to outwit Macheath several times, and who in gradating her refinement provides a masterful and not immediately appraisable perspective, with precise timing. Jan Sklenář’s Macheath also shows undeniable magic and mastery. In keeping with the above-mentioned songs he has a Travolta-style hairdo and is dressed in white. Sklenář also sings the songs (in English) and gives the whole production a kind of slippery navigability. More masterful acting comes in the shape of Staněk’s treacherously cunning Lockit, the coarse but practical brothel-owner Diana (Kamila Sedlárová) and others.
Jan Kerbr, Divadelní noviny
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