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Spring Weekend: Vanek Variations (Czech)

Vaclav Havel Library Foundation

Friday, May 10, 2019 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)

Spring Weekend: Vanek Variations (Czech)

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Type End Quantity
Audience/Infiltration May 15, 2019 Free  

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Event Details

Friday, May 10, 7pm

Vanek Variations

Audience by Vaclav Havel, translated by Jan Novak; The Meeting by Edward Einhorn; Infiltration by Petr Erbes, translated by Paul Wilson

Directed by Edward Einhorn

Stage reading, Czech Republic

In Audience, by Vaclav Havel, the first of the Vanek plays, Ferdinand Vanek, a dissident writer, is forced to work in a brewery, so that he can contribute to society rather than be an intellectual bourgeois burden. The brewmaster calls him in for a friendly talk, or possibly an interrogation. It is clear that the brewmaster desperately wants something. It is not at all clear what that something is.

In The Meeting by Edward Einhorn Ferdinand Vanek's niece, Frida Vanek, a Czech-American, asks for a meeting with Vanek's old acquaintance Stanek, now planning to run for office in the Czech Republic. She brings some damaging information. Should she use it?

In Infiltration by Petr Erbes Jr, Winner of the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation's contest on the theme of Ferdinand Vanek today, the character Vanek is now a young man working at a puzzle factory, in a play set in the current Czech Republic. He wants to help the workers there, but finds himself a misfit. 

Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) was a playwright, essayist, political dissident, and the former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He became well-known as a dramatist in the 1960s when his plays The Garden Party and The Memorandum were seen on world theatre stages. In the 1970s, he was one of the authors of Charter 77 – a manifesto calling for the Czechoslovak government to adhere to the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Agreement. Around this time, Havel released The Power of the Powerless, a powerful political essay that dissects the nature of totalitarian rule and the resistance that emerges within it. In 1989, he became the leader of the two-month long Velvet Revolution, which culminated in his ascension to the Presidency of the re-established democratic Czechoslovakia. Only a few months earlier, he had been released after being held by the communist regime for his activities in defense of human rights.

Edward Einhorn is a playwright, director, translator, librettist, and novelist.  He is the Artistic Director of Untitled Theater Company No. 61. Some of his notable Czech projects include The Velvet Oratorio, an opera oratorio retelling the events of the Velvet Revolution, Cabaret in Activity and Vaclav Havel’s Hunt for the Pig. He has just finished directing the film version of Karel Svenk’s The Last Cyclist, originally written in Terezin, due to be released this year. Einhorn’s original plays include Rudolf II and Golem Stories. Einhorn has directed or had plays produced at The New Ohio, The Brick Theatre, Columbia University, Lincoln Center, The Bohemian National Hall, Pangea Cabaret, The Center for Jewish History, The Czech Embassy in Washington D.C., York Theatre, Goodnough College (in London) and Chashama Theatre. In 2006, he curated the Vaclav Havel Festival, a festival of all of Havel’s work, which Havel himself attended. The New York Times has called Einhorn’s work "exquisitely ingenious", “dramatically shrewd,” and "almost unbearably funny"; Time Out has called it "challenging, thought-provoking," “mesmerizing,” and “startlingly intense”; and The Village Voice has called it “hilarious, provocative,” and "Inspired absurdist comedy". He has received a Sloan Grant, SEED Magazine’s Revolutionary Mind Award, The NY Innovative Theater Award for Best Performance Art Production of the Year,’s Person of the Year Award and placement in their Indie Theater Hall of Fame, and Critic’s Picks in Time Out, The Village Voice, and The New York Times.

Petr Erbes (1991, Policka, Czech Republic) has co-authored various theatre productions including: DISK , Jatka78, Dejvicke divadlo, Narodni divadlo Brno. He is an active member of 8people. He studied Multimedia Technology at CTU and Alternative Dramaturgy and Puppet Theatre at the Theatre faculty of The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU). He is interested in active role of audience in theatre; he explores game structures and narratives. 


The Rehearsal for Truth theater festival, honoring Vaclav Havel presents Spring Weekend. It is a showcase of emerging Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak playwrights whose work reflects on current social and political issues. The plays have been translated into English and feature local New York performers and directors who will have the opportunity to try out these works onstage as part of the European Month of Culture. The program will include a full Romanian production as well.

The cultural institutions of these five countries collaborate with VHLF to select the plays as well as arrange trips for some of the chosen playwrights to NYC to participate in the rehearsals, stage reading performances, and discussions with the audience after the shows.

The program is organized by the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation and the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, in collaboration with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic, Consulate General of Slovakia, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Romanian Cultural Institute, and Untitled Theater Company #61.

The program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


The festival weekend begins with a VIP pre-festival party,The Spring Weekend Soiree, on May 9th at 7pm, at the Bohemian Spirit Restaurant, and all proceeds support the artists. The party features discussions with local directors: Adrian Alea, Edward Einhorn, Simona Maicanescu, Michael Piatkowski and Zishan Ugurlu, and includes short excerpts from the plays themselves. Guests will also enjoy the vibrant music of Central Europe. All tickets can be purchased at and include traditional Czech food and beer.

Friday, May 10, at 7pm, features a stage reading of Vanek Variations from the Czech Republic: Audience, by Vaclav Havel; The Meeting by Edward Einhorn; Infiltration by  Petr Erbes, all directed by Edward Einhorn.

Saturday, May 11, at 4 pm, features the stage reading of a  Hungarian play by Andrea Pass, Sunflower, directed by Adrian Alea.

At 8 pm on May 11th, audiences will experience a full length production of the Romanian play by Herta Muller, Hoped I Wouldn’t Meet Myself Today, directed and performed by Simona Maicanescu.

A stage reading of the Slovakian play, Urn on an Empty Stage, by Martin Cicvak and directed by Katarina Vizina will be presented on Sunday, May 12 at 3 pm.

Poland’s Magda Fertacz’s Puppenhaus. Treatment, directed by Zishan Ugurlu, closes the weekend on May 12th at 7pm.


All productions for this Spring Weekend are held at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 E. 73rd St., New York, NY, 10021, and have been translated into English. The stage readings and full-length production are free events, and reservations can be made on eventbrite. After every stage reading and production, there will be talk backs with the artists followed by a small reception hosted by the featured country’s cultural institution.


Have questions about Spring Weekend: Vanek Variations (Czech)? Contact Vaclav Havel Library Foundation

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When & Where

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

Friday, May 10, 2019 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)

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Vaclav Havel Library Foundation

The Vaclav Havel Library Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in the United States to honor, preserve, and build upon the legacy of playwright, dissident, and former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel.

We complement Vaclav Havel Library in Prague by organizing access to unique materials documenting Havel’s accomplishments and activities in North America. We create an effective, cutting-edge interactive platform and bridge to promote worldwide awareness of Havel’s crucial contributions not only to the democratic transition in Central Europe, but to ongoing debates about a much larger transition of the global community from the 20th to 21st century.

U.S. Congress, February 21, 1990

Through activities relating to issues important to Havel, support of research devoted to themes connected to Havel’s legacy as a playwright, and memorials recognizing Havel’s influence as a Global Citizen, VHLF aims to serve as a “living library” focused on advancing the legacy of former President Havel.

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