The Czech Embassy's "Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013-Václav Havel" celebrates the life and legacy of the late Czech president, dissident, and writer, with more than 30 events Sept. 5-Oct. 31 throughout the Washington area.
This year is the 77th anniversary of Havel’s birth, a number especially significant for Havel, who was a key founder-writer of Charter 77, a 1977 human rights manifesto criticizing the Czechoslovak government. It led to the Velvet Revolution in 1989, which ended Communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia. Havel, who had led negotiations with the communists, became president.
The festival offers theatrical performances, film screenings, concerts, lectures, and exhibitions at venues including the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, the Atlas Performing Arts Center, and Georgetown University, where a site will be dedicated to him on Oct. 2. Georgetown was one of the first places that Havel visited during his 1990 U.S. trip "because students played a very important role in our Velvet Revolution," he said.
Here are just a few highlights of the fascinating two-month festival. For the full list of events, visit http://www.mutualinspirations.org/events/:
- FESTIVAL LAUNCH --"Václav Havel's Evening"
The embassy on Sept. 5 at 6 P.M. presents "Václav Havel's Evening". It features:
- A program, "Prison Experience of Václav Havel in Memories and Documents".
- Documentary "Citizen Havel Goes on Vacation". The "vacation" was his trip across Czechoslovakia in 1985, when he was its most prominent dissident. In one week, he was jailed twice for 48 hours, and followed by some 300 plainclothes policemen.
- Exhibition opening: "Olga Havlová: In the Memories of Her Friends and in the Photographs of Bohdan Holomíček". Havel's first wife Olga was a fellow dissident, a key advisor, and a philanthropist.
Admission is free, but reservations are required: email@example.com.
- THEATER – Havel’s Trilogy
Havel’s Trilogy is a series of performances and discussions related to his "Vaněk" plays "Audience", "Unveiling", and "Protest". The one-act plays' star character, Ferdinand Vaněk, is Havel's dramatic alter ego. These events span from Sept. 13-Dec. 13.
Under communism, Havel's plays were banned from theaters. So his work was performed in living rooms, barns, pubs, and other unusual places, often called "apartment theater".
The many dramatic events include performances of his play "Unveiling", and the U.S. premiere of "Antiwords" by Miřenka Čechová, presented by the Alliance for New Music-Theatre at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Sept. 24 and 25.
During this time, the Atlas will exhibit photographs by Bohdan Holomíček, depicting Havel’s life as a dissident artist.
- CONCERT -- World Premiere of "Life in Truth"
The Trinity Chamber Orchestra presents the world premiere of "Life in Truth", a composition which uses words from Havel's speech to a joint session of U.S. Congress Feb. 21, 1990, after the Velvet Revolution brought an end to Czechoslovakia's communist regime. "Life in Truth" was composed by Joseph Santo, a professor at D.C.'s Catholic University of America. The program also includes Dvořák’s "Slavonic Dances" and Leoš Janáček’s "Lachain Dances", on Sept. 29 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Bethesda, Marylan.
Other concerts range from performances by the U.S. Army Band and members of the Cathedral Choral Society, to a pop band, to jazz musicians. Several are paired with a film or a lecture.
- FILM PROGRAM -- "'The Play’s the Thing:' Václav Havel, Art and Politics"
The National Gallery of Art, in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library, presents a free film program "'The Play’s the Thing:' Václav Havel, Art and Politics" on Oct. 5, 11, 12 and 13. It features Havel's directorial debut film and archival footage and documentaries about his friendships with filmmakers of the Czech New Wave, the influential Theatre on the Balustrade where his theatrical career began, and his political rise in Prague.
The annual festival focuses on mutual inspirations between Czech and American cultures, and each year features an extraordinary Czech dignitary of great influence.
Patrons of this year's Havel festival include his widow, Dagmar Havlová, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was born in Prague.
As Havel said, "The real test of a man is not how well he plays the role he has invented for himself, but how well he plays the role that destiny assigned to him."
So, learn about this hero's many roles and his truly inspirational life during the festival.
For more info: "Mutual Inspirations Festival 2013-Václav Havel", http://www.mutualinspirations.org/events, Sept. 5-Oct. 31. Embassy of the Czech Republic, www.mzv.cz/washington/, 3900 Spring of Freedom Street, N.W. (near Connecticut Avenue, off Tilden Street, N.W.), Washington, D.C., 202-274-9100.