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Václav Havel on Theatre

September 17, 2012


We are pleased to announce that on Friday 14 September Václav Havel o divadle (Václav Havel on Theatre), the fifth volume on the Edice Knihovny Václava Havla (Václav Havel Library Editions) imprint, was published.

A collection of texts by Václav Havel, Václav Havel on Theatre focuses on issues surrounding theatre and includes newspaper articles, reviews, profiles, comments on the author’s own plays, philosophical essays, correspondences, speeches, academic papers, and recollections. The selection from the writer’s nearly 60-year activities as a writer of commentaries is divided into thematically conceived, annotated sections. The main reason the volume has been put together was the scattered nature of the reflections on the theatre found throughout his extensive and varied work.

The volume was compiled by Anna Freimanová. Its foreword was written by Martin Palouš, while Zdeněk Hořínek and Lenka Jungmannová penned afterwords.

Václav Havel’s memories of his time at Prague theatres in the 1960s, which have appeared in his books Letters to OlgaDisturbing the Peace, and To the Castle and Back, are of historical significance, with sections in the first two in particular amounting to the playwright’s own theatre history.

The collection’s centre of gravity is the writer’s journalism in the 1960s, particularly for the magazine Divadlo and the newspaper Divadelní noviny, which is focused on that era’s Czech, respectively Prague, theatre scene. Several notes by the writer and letters to the directors of his plays are published for the first time. The parts dedicated to his theatre colleagues and models – Alfréd Radok and Jan Grossman – are of particular interest.

The volume also contains texts that Václav Havel dedicated over the years, and for various reasons, to almost all of his dramatic works. These have never previously been published in complete form. The book closes with an essay that Freimanová has composed from selected passages of Havel’s Letters to Olga, which he wrote in prison. The author’s existential reflections on what theatre has meant to him during his life and what role it plays and should play in society, what constitutes its social value and power, represent the book’s philosophical climax.

Václav Havel on Theatre offers a gripping insight into the genesis of Havel’s plays. It probes his methods as a writer, the world of his characters, and his thoughts on theatre – and therefore on life in all its various connections.


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