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4 Oct 2019 19:30


The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival honoring Václav Havel will feature the famous play Audience followed by Q&A with the actors.


October 4, 7:30PM
In the Ballroom


Audience centers on a meeting between brewery manager Sládek and employee Vaněk. While the manager is clearly opening too many beers and inducing binge drinking, it is less clear what he wants from Vaněk. Audience (1975) is the first of Václav Havel’s partly autobiographical one-act plays known as the “Vaněk Trilogy” (followed by Protest (1978) and Mistake (1983)) based on his experience of being subject to forced work while under constant harassment from the Communist regime. Since the plays were banned in then-Czechoslovakia, they were performed in people’s living rooms and even recorded on vinyl. 

Audience (1975). Playwright: Václav Havel.
Directed by: Jakub Špalek. Cast: Jan Potměšil, Tomáš Karger. Presented by: Kašpar Theatre in Celetná, VHLF and BBLA.
Duration: 45 minutes.

The show will be performed in Czech with English supertitles. Talkback after the show will be with actors Jan Potměšil and Tomáš Karger, afterparty reception will take place at Bohemian National Hall’s Ballroom Bar. 

Free and open to the public. Seats are limited, on first-come, first-served basis. Registration online through Eventbrite is required.

The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival is organized by the Václav Havel Library Foundation (VHLF) and Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association (BBLA), in partnership with Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and Romanian performing arts organizations and cultural institutes.

Audience will also be featured at Davis Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., on October 2 and at Chopin Theatre in Chicago on October 6. The U.S. tour of Kašpar company is supported by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C., Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York, Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago and Czech compatriot associations in Chicago.

Jakub Špalek (b. 1968) is an actor, theater director and producer. In the 1990s, he co-founded the theater company Kašpar. Špalek has directed over twenty plays and contributed to many other performances as a producer, actor and dramaturge. He also appeared in a number of films and TV shows in addition to Helena Třeštíková’s documentaries Ten Years in Life of a Young Man (1999) and Life with Kašpar (2013). Špalek directs the Theatre in Celetná. 

Jan Potměšil (b. 1966) is an actor who performs onstage and well as in films and TV shows. He has been wheelchair-bound ever since a 1989 car accident that occurred during a countrywide journey to promote the Velvet Revolution. Potměšil has excelled onstage while performing major characters in Kašpar plays, including Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon, Jesus in Trouble in the House of God and Polonius in Hamlet. In 1996, Potměšil received the prestigious Thalia Award for a young theater actor and was given the Alfred Radok Award for the Best Actor in 2000 for personating Richard III in the eponymous play. Despite his handicap, Potměšil continues his long and successful acting career.

Tomáš Karger (b. 1964) is a theatre, film and TV actor. In the 1990s, he co-founded the theater company Kašpar. Karger is known as Duncan and Malcolm in Macbeth, dr. Straus in Flowers for Algernon, capt. Lebyadkin in Demons or Ragenau in Cyrano performed in the Theatre in Celetná. Apart of acting he also moderates historic and culture events. He was awarded by Kilcullen Wild Geese Award for the greatest contribution to Irish culture in the Czech Republic in 2006.

Václav Havel (1936-2011) was a playwright, essayist, political dissident and, after 1989, president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. His first full-length play performed in public, The Garden Party (1963), won him international acclaim. Soon after its premiere came his well-known The Memorandum (1965) along with The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (1968). In 1968, The Memorandum was brought to The Public Theater in New York, which helped to establish Havel's name in the United States. During the repressive period thatfollowed the 1968 Prague Spring, Communist authorities forbade the publication and performance of Havel’s works. Havel refused to be silenced and became an outspoken human rights advocate. He manifested his experience of working odd jobs into the so-called “Vaněk Trilogy” (named after Ferdinand Vaněk, a stand-in for Havel), and the three screenplays circulated in samizdat format throughout Czechoslovakia. Havel's reputation as a leading dissident crystalized in January 1977 with the publication of the Charter 77, a Czechoslovak manifesto that called on the government to honor its human rights commitments under the Helsinki Accords. Havel was arrested many times throughout the remainder of Communism for alleged anti-state activities and sentenced to more than four years in prison. His seminal essay, The Power of the Powerless (1978), had profound impact on dissident and human rights movements worldwide.

Kašpar is an independent theater company founded in 1990 by Jakub Špalek. Since 1994, Kašpar has been stationed at Prague’s Theatre in Celetná (hence Kašpar Theatre in Celetná). The company has produced over 89 performances, including classical plays, such as Possessed by Dostoyevsky, Hamlet by Shakespeare and Bald Soprano by Ionesco, alongside screenplays by contemporary authors like Havel, Klimacek, Ivesand Bauersima. English drama has also made its way to Kaspar, e.g. The Two of Usand Copenhagen by Michael Frayn, The Royal Hunt of the Sun by Peter Shaffer and Betrayal and Old Times by Harold Pinter. In addition to continuing its operations at Celetná, Kašpar opened Clubhouse, a venue that evokes the Communist-era tradition of “apartment theater” whereby banned plays were secretly staged at people’s homes. Under the slogan “we can’t get closer,” Clubhouse rotates twelve plays—one mainstay being Havel’s Audience. The events offered at Clubhouse are “the private pleasure and enjoyment” of Kašpar.  


The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival explores the disappearance of borders between truth and lies. The festival consists of five international performances—three full plays, one dance performance and a behind-the-scene presentation—along with four special events. In total, the activities offer a notable occasion for adventure of the mind and conduits for shared encounters.

The festival examines different nuances of truth through its third edition, “The Travesty of Truth.” Conceived under the direction of Pavla Niklová, the 2019 Rehearsal for Truth program encourages participants to enter a dialogue on pressing matters that pervade our post-truth era.

Full program of 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival HERE

Partners of a Prague Theater Continue Revolution-Era Dreams

Life is a collage of events, one leading to another, ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence. The 1989 Velvet Revolution engendered the restoration of freedom for Czechs and Slovaks. As the Communist regime waned, unexpected opportunities arose for many, including young actor and aspiring director Jakub Špalek. However, these times shattered dreams for his schoolmate, preeminent actor Jan Potměšil, when a horrific accident left him wheelchair-bound. Yet the seemingly irreconcilable circumstances ensued a decades-long friendship and professional partnership in the Prague theater company Kašpar.

It all started in Prague, summer 1989. Upon a sidewalk edge in front of the Academy of Music Arts’ Theater Faculty sat acting student Jakub, sharing with his schoolmates, including Jan, a vision of starting an independent theater company. As promising as the twenty-one-year-old’s dreams may have sounded, at that point in Communist Czechoslovakia, all theaters still fell under government management and funding. Nevertheless, it was only a matter of a few months’ time that everything would change. 

Brno-native Jakub came to Prague to study acting. His experience onstage stretches back to when he began performing at a mere age of ten in his hometown’s legendary experimental theater, Goose on a String. He got involved in directing shows shortly after arriving in the Czechoslovak capital. In spring 1989, Jakub directed then-banned The Hour Between a Dog and a Wolf (1979) by Daniela Fišerová, a play that concentrates on Francois Villon, a parable of an artist’s encounter with power. Meanwhile Jan was enjoying his celebrity status as a film and stage actor who had made his way onto movie sets since childhood on an almost continuous basis. Towards the end of his college years, he was performing key roles in the most prominent Prague theaters, e.g. Vinohrady Theatre and Theatre on the Balustrade.

Enter summer of the troubled year 1989. Demonstrations on August 21 rallied on the 21st anniversary of the Soviet invasion. More protests followed, leading to the student marches on November 17 that resulted in violent police suppression on Narodní Street. University students consequently entered a strike and, together with actors, began to travel across Czechoslovakia to incite public demands to overhaul the authoritarian regime. One such journey turned out devastating for Jan. After his driver fell asleep at the wheel, their car drove off the highway, putting the young actor in a terrible, near-death state. Jan woke up after three months in a coma to learn that he would never walk again. 

In the meantime, Jakub’s successful production of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac motivated him to form his own theater company, Kašpar, in 1990. Jakub made his dream come true—and he did not forget about Jan. The following year, Jakub unexpectedly asked Jan to join Kašpar and do theater together. Jakub was the first person, and the only for a long time, to offer Jan an acting job after the latter had been confined to a wheelchair. Jakub cast Jan in the new edition of The Hour Between a Dog and Wolf as a judge who recites lines while sitting in the audience. Kašpar has remained Jan’s “home” ever since. 

The Kašpar company has functioned for almost three decades as the manifestation of what the former schoolmates had envisioned. Jakub and Jan have engaged in theatrical pursuits for the entire duration. Jakub mainly serves as a director and producer, whereas Jan, despite his handicap, plays major roles that have thus far received an array of Czech awards, including the prestigious Alfred Radok Award (for personating Richard III in the eponymous play) and Thalia Award. Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, which Kašpar first performed in 1993, has seen over 850 reruns, all directed by Jakub with Jan playing the main character, Charlie Gordon. 

Audience, presented by Kašpar in the 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival in New York City, is the only play that features Jakub and Jan side-by-side as actors and is very close to their hearts.

Photographs by Michal Hladík



Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


4 Oct 2019 19:30


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

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