Saturday, 12 December 2009

Vinohrady Theatre by night

This is another shot of a building with which you may be familar. Its name in Czech is Divadlo na Vinohradech, divadlo meaning 'theatre'. The word is derived from the verb 'dívat se' meaning to watch. There are several other words formed in the same way, for example jídlo ('food' from 'jist' - to eat), and letadlo ('aeroplane' from 'létat' - to fly).

The theatre scene is excellent throughout the city, and it's a good lesson in language learning to go to one of the many playhouses (they say there are more theatres on these streets than anywhere else in the world), because the actors always enunciate so clearly. Fortunately for this particular Prague-dweller, although there are few actual English performances, there are plenty of English-language authors. I've seen many Czech versions of Shakespeare over here, as well as plays by Tom Stoppard (who was born in this country), Timberlake Wertenbaker and others.

Last week I went to see an experimental Hamlet at a small theatre in Dejvice, Prague 6.  All very well done, but also rather troubling, The director had decided that soliloquy was a rather old-fashioned device, so all of Hamlet's great solo speeches - in which only he and we should be party to his thoughts - were carried out as chatty conversations. 'Být,  nebo nebýt' was a kind of fireside natter with Ophelia. The result was that everyone, including the wicked King Claudius himself, was completely in on the plot from the start. There's one moment in the play where Hamlet privately wonders whether to kill Claudius and then decides not to. This was carried out as a kind of business interview, but with a gun literally pointed at Claudius's head. Still, they're great fans of the bard over here, as the name of my local testifies.

3 comments:

Antjas said...

My 2nd cousin is an expert on contemporary Czech theater design and has even written a book about it. So, I love your divadlo entries. I also find its derivation interesting, never connecting that it came from the word divat.

Leif Hagen said...

It looks like quite a fancy theater! I wonder what it looks like inside??

Julie said...

What is with the name "Timberlake" at the moment.

One needs a flexible brain for Shakespeare as she is modernly played.

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