Václav Havel's New Play Aims for 2008 Premiere in Prague

News   Václav Havel's New Play Aims for 2008 Premiere in Prague Václav Havel's new play Departing (Odchazeni) is expected to play Prague's Vinohrady Theater, the Czech News Agency (CTK) reported.

Former Czech President Havel's new play, sometimes translated as Leaving, will feature Havel's wife Dagmar Veškrnová in a leading role. He reportedly wrote the role with her in mind.

According to the news service, Leaving was to be staged at the National Theatre, but a disagreement over the casting of Dagmar arose. The play — Havel's first new work in 18 years — is expected at the Vinohrady in May-June 2008.

The text is already being translated into other languages. The play is said to be inspired, in part, by King Lear.

CTK reported that The Royal Shakespeare Company has shown interest in the work, as have Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava and three U.S. theatres.

Activist, essayist, playwright and politician, Havel was the ninth and final president of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992) and the first president of the new post-Soviet Czech Republic (1993-2003). According to Havel's official website, he "grew up in a well-known entrepreneurial and intellectual family, which was closely linked to the cultural and political events in Czechoslovakia from the 1920s to the 1940s. Because of these links the communists did not allow Havel to study formally after having completed required schooling in 1951. In the first part of the 1950s, a young Václav Havel entered into a four-year apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory assistant and simultaneously took evening classes to complete his secondary education (which he did in 1954). For political reasons he was not accepted into any post-secondary school with a humanities program; therefore, he opted to study at the faculty of economics of Czech Technical University. He left this program after two years.

"The intellectual tradition of his family compelled Václav Havel to pursue the humanitarian values of Czech culture, which were harshly suppressed in the 1950s. Following his return from two years of military service, he worked as a stage technician — first at Divadlo ABC, and then, in 1960, at Divadlo Na zabradli. From 1962 until 1966, he studied drama by correspondence at the faculty of theatre of the Academy of Musical Arts, and completed his studies with a commentary on the play Eduard, which became the basis of his own The Increased Difficulty of Concentration."

His plays include An Evening with the Family (1960), Motormorphosis (1960), The Garden Party (1963), The Memorandum (1965), The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (1968), Butterfly on the Antennna (1968), Guardian Angel (1968), Conspirators (1971), The Beggar's Opera (1975), Mountain Hotel (1976), Audience (1978), Private View (1978), Protest (1978), Mistake (1983), Largo desolato (1985), Temptation (1986), Redevelopment (1987), Tomorrow (1988) and Leaving (2007).

Havel's Czech world is addressed in Czech-born Tom Stoppard's new play, Rock 'n' Roll, making its Broadway bow this fall following its London run.

For more information about Václav Havel, visit www.vaclavhavel.cz.

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