Doctor Tarzan’s Marvellous Circus

Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up and visit our big top – you will see true wonders from the world of animals. This is because the renowned Doctor Tarzan has just come to your town. Doctor Tarzan, who discovered many absolutely uniqe specimens form the animal knigdom in the primeval forests of Sumatra, in the crags of Kamchatka and elsewhere. The skills these creatures display will také your breath away. No zoo in the world will show you as much as Doctor Tarzan’s marvellous circus! This performance for young and old will bring you the atmosphere of old-fashioned menageries and big tops. For children aged 4 and up.

The Expedition: My Love!

White Island is glowing. Lost in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, it gives off light, because nobody can see it. Right now, when I am sitting in Stockholm writing these lines, White Island is enveloped in a glow.

Nobody can see it. But the island glows on.

The production is based on the book The Expedition: A Love Story by the Swedish author Bea Uusma. It follows the trail of the three-member pioneering expedition of the engineer André from the year 1897, which unsuccessfully tried to conquer the North Pole with the use of a hot air balloon. This adventure story has been told many times over, including in the film The Flight of the Eagle, which was nominated for an Oscar. It is appearing for the first time, however, on a Czech stage. It contains the romantic spirit of exploration and discovery, the tragedy of a human fate that came to a premature end somewhere in the polar wilderness, unfulfilled true love and several humorous, slapstick moments related to the very plan of the expedition. Who would have thought to reach the North Pole in a balloon? The tragicomic nature of the story was the inspiration for the creators of the production, guest director Filip Homola and scenographer Robert Smolík, to create a concept based on the striking visuality combining elements of clownery with the imagery of puppet and object theatre that, combined with the dominant musical compositions, promise a suggestive theatrical experience.

Press:

“The most imaginative and conceptually accurate, witty and, in its artistic ideas, uncommonly entertaining production of Expedition: My Love from guest director Filip Homola and stage designer Robert Smolík is complemented by the ubiquitous atmospheric music of Kora et le Mechanix and is characterised by very balanced performances by the actors.” 

Veronika Bednářová, reflex.cz, 16 March 2022

 

“Sensitivity is the defining element capturing the essence of the production. (…) Apart from the precisely created atmosphere, the puppet ensemble is handled just as sensitively. The wooden puppets and objects are the primary dominant features, while each prop acts as a readable placeholder – whether it is a pair of lovers, several versions of the hot-air balloon, the three main protagonists or even a polar bear.

Not only did the Hradec Králove production of Expedition: My Love revive the memory of this event in a sensitive way, it enriched it with a charming image of the intoxicating power love can have, for which people are not only willing to go to the ends of the earth, but to give their very lives.”

Veronika Holečková, 17 January 2023, divadelni-noviny.cz

The Twelve Moons

Maruška lives in a small cottage with her stepmother and stepsister. They are not very nice to her at all. And worst of all is when they send poor Maruška out into the ice and snow to bring back some strawberries: “And don’t come back without them!” Whatever will poor Maruška do now? A blizzard is raging outside, everyone and their dogs are huddled inside, and now she has this silly, impossible chore. Everybody knows that strawberries don’t grow in January. Or have they all forgotten?

This production for younger children is also a solo opportunity for one of the most experienced members of the troupe. In her years in Drak Theatre Ivana Bílková has worked will most of the well-known directors that have passed through the theatre and made it what it is today. She has acted in the legendary productions of Josef Krofta (such as The Bartered Bride), while Jan Borna, Jakub Krofta, Jiří Vyšohlíd and Tomáš Dvořák have also cast her in their productions.

Antigone

This is not the subject of a Latin American soap opera or an endless series from a city periphery, but the fate of the young heroine of an ancient tragedy: her father murdered his own father, her grandfather, and slept with his mother. Hence with her own her mother. And therefore also with her grandmother. Her brothers kill each other, and one of the brothers is not allowed to be buried by her future father-in-law. And then her mother’s brother. Or her grandmother’s. Whichever. And it is not exactly easy with her sister, either. Or is her sister having problem with the herione? It’s hard to say… Oedipus complex, Psyche, Eros. Only the Xanax is not a Greek word, but it might as well be. Either way, walking up to the very threshold of adulthood with such a load on your back seems more like a Pyrrhic victory. What did she do to deserve it? Why could not she have been born into a normal family? Is there even a normal family?

The heroine would like to finally take her destiny into her own hands. But she is confronted with an absurd ban that brings back all the shadows of her family’s past. But why should she be the one to bear the weight of wrongs and misdeeds committed by someone else? It seems that in order to live a normal life at all, she has no choice but to fundamentally reassess her relationship to authority, to her parents, to those close to her, to the world and, ultimately, to herself.

Following the theatrical road-movie The Journey, devised reworking of the ancient myth based on the motives of Sophocles’ tragedy is the second of the new cycle of productions by the Drak Theatre aimed at teenage audiences.

The production is co-produced by Městská divadla pražská

Foto Tomáš Roček

In the media:

“In the ‘theatre in a theatre’, Drak once again proves its greatest strength: a high standard of collective acting and musical versatility, the ability of instant animation, a feeling for timing and a sense of humour.  

The instructive production of suppressed gestures, high emotions, real fire and steam from the sauna of responsibility for yourself and the family in which one finds oneself, without being asked, has a great chance to reach its audience and ignite interest in both antiquity and in theatrical imagination. I hope so for the audience and for Drak.” 

Antigone has a chance to wow sensitive audiences, Petr Mareček, MF DNES, 21 May 2022 | rating 75%

“Antigone in DRAK is definitely not a literal adaptation of Sophocles’ play. The key situations are placed in a completely ordinary context that is close to us and thus the ancient heroes as performed by the individual actors appear completely authentic.

Vašíček and Jarkovský have managed to find a theme in an ancient Greek myth tailored to their audience, to bring one of the oldest dramatic stories to the present day, all without losing that which makes ancient poetry so specific.”

Veronika Švecová, Ancient teen dramedy, Puppeteer 2022-2

Princess Turandot

Princess Turandot, the daughter of the Chinese Emperor, does not know what love is and does not want to get married under any circumstances. Thus she asks her father to ordain a cruel condition for all of her suitors. Whoever wants the hand of the princess has to guess three of her riddles otherwise he will lose his head. And the heads are rolling because Turandot is terribly clever. But is she wise, as well? And whatever will become of her meeting with the Czech lad Honza, who has also joined the ranks of her suitors and also therefore those who await an (almost) certain death?

Little Red Riding Hood

Once upon a time there was a little girl who wore a red bonnet on her head, and so everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood. One fine day she packed a basket full to bursting. Clothing, something to eat, a few trifles as keepsakes and her own story. Then she headed out on a trip to a completely foreign forest.

A Czech/Ukrainian production of the classic fairy tale than is well known by children and adults in both countries. There are two actors. Marina lives in Kyiv, Petr in Divec. Now they have come together in Hradec (which is not even close to being halfway) in order to tell the same story together. But Marina speaks Ukrainian and Petr Czech. And each knows that story a bit differently. It seems that if there is going to be a happy ending, they will have to learn how to make themselves understood.

Third Time’s A Charm…

The production Third Time’s A Charm… is a meant for the youngest audiences and is based on classic fairy tales as recorded by Karel Jaromír Erben, Božena Němcová and others. It is inspired by the celebrated tradition of folk puppet and fair theatres and the phenomenon of cantastoria, while looking for new, modern methods of expression for them. Thus we will be telling the trio of tales, in which the magic number three plays a triple role, similarly to how folk puppeteers have been doing it for centuries. But differently nonetheless…

White Fang

The far north is a hostile place during the rough times of the gold rush, where White Fang, a cross-breed of dog and wolf puppy, is growing. Characterised by wildness and effervescence, White Fang cannot easily fit in with a pack of wolves or even among people; he is neither accepted, nor does he accept easily. As he grows up, he encounters violence and hatred as well as kindness and even love. What will eventually be imprinted in his soul?

Quotes from reviews:

“In the role of White Fang, Milan Hajn gives an absolutely exceptional and complex performance, which combines stage work with modern recording techniques (the use of live cinema) as well as very personal acting in a first-person narrative. His concentrated acting vividly depicts the gradual domestication of a wild animal, without it seeming inappropriate or even embarrassing to the audience. Hajn is absolutely dominant and unmistakeable in this production. Such a role is quite unique in the sphere of puppet/alternative theatre based on interplay and that makes his performance all the more valuable.”

2019 Thálie Awards, commentary of the expert committee on the nominations

 “They move across the stage as Indians, gold diggers, a pack of wolves, a dog sled team. And, from the big picture to the big details they shoot animal and human lairs, cages, fierce dogfights and hunts, escapes, maws, muzzles, lightning in their eyes, the landscape around the river in a sea of snow… The effect is perfect. The camera’s magic aspires to the realm of poetry.” 

P.J. Kříž,  White Fang immortalised through new techniques, 6.3.2018  Právo p. 11, Northeast Bohemia) 

“Because director Jakub Vašíček works with that most of all, with images, with atmosphere – and he works with it wonderfully, sensitively and carefully. Above all, the intensity and authenticity of the situations make the production of White Fang a powerful experience for audiences young and old.”

Nikola Škvarová, Child: White Fang, 19.4.2018 Divědové na blogu

“An abbreviated version of the world-famous novel. The production abounds with amusing moments, such as loot splitting among pack members, dog fights in wooden rink, etc. Yet, the production also features “chilling” scenes, so typical of the book. The production combines theatre and created live film, which is also projected live. This concept suitably fits the nature of performance and enables the spectator to understand the story from the perspective of the main animal character. Entertaining, yet respecting the value of the original book, the production is suitable also for younger audiences. All male cast present a captivating show with their playing and performing. The strong story is rendered originally, enabling the audiences to experience being in the wolf’s skin.”

Antonie Holubová, 5. 4. 2018, divabaze.cz

„White Fang is an adorable performance. I think it contains the most clever use of camera on stage I have ever seen. Not only that. The whole concept is precise, well thought over, actors are great. The protagonist of main character is unbelievable.“

Mojca Redjko, Slovene National Theatre Maribor

Awards and Acknowledgements

ERIK Award for the “Best Puppet Performance of the Season”

Theatre Newpaper’s Award in category „The Best Direction of The Season“ in the field of Alternative and Puppet theatre for director Jakub Vašíček

Skupa‘s Pilsner Awards for Tomáš Jarkovský, Jakub Vašíček and Antonín Šilar for the concept of the performance

Thalie Award for the main protagonist Milan Hajn in the field of Alternative and Puppet Theatre

 

Oddball

The planet Odd has a single, solitary inhabitant. He lives here contentedly all by himself in a world that perfectly suits him. Until the planet starts to overheat for some unknown reason, and there is nothing left for him to do by to look for a different refuge. And at that moment he himself probably doesn’t anticipate just what an adventure it will be. “I like the colour blue. It comforts me. It gives me a feeling of certainty. A blue world is a world that is just ne. Tranquil, balanced, safe. Blue is a perfect colour. It has so many forms, so many shades, why would I need any other? The colour of happiness, for example, is light blue like the sky, while sadness is dark blue like moonlight. But not that evil, disturbing sadness that chokes you up. Blue sadness is serene, reconciled. It rises from the depths and disappears again in the depths. And blue happiness sounds quiet, doesn’t shout in intrusive tones, doesn’t bubble rudely to the surface, doesn’t rave, doesn’t whoop it up. It holds it nicely inside and gently trembles. My world is blue because it is all mine. And it is all mine because it is blue.”

 

Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn is a young boy who stands out of the crows. It could be said that he has a problem adapting to his surroundings, but that wouldn’t quite be true. That’s because he doesn’t even try to. He takes his own path. Sometimes he strays from it, sometimes he gets burnt, but he rarely regrets anything. One day, through a combination of various circumstances, he joins his fate with that of a fugitive slave Jim, and this unlikely duo embarks on trip on a raft together down the Mississippi. A ride that is one great depiction of the flight to freedom. But, as it turns out, becoming free does not just mean getting rid of injustice and oppression, but perhaps also of your own prejudices.

An original production based on the motifs of the famous novel by Mark Twain, which is considered one of the founding titles of the tradition of the great American novel. The production is thematically linked to two previous titles from the same production team, White Fang and The Journey, and it forms a complete trilogy of adventure stories about freedom inspired by great works of American literature.

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