Theater 61 Press, a division of the Off-Broadway theater company Untitled Theater Co. #61, announces today's October 4, 2012 launch event for the Havel Collection: A series of five new books of translation of plays by Václav Havel. Every volume will include translations that have never before been available. The launch will include a staged reading of excerpts from the books as well as conversations with translators Stepán Stimek and Edward Einhorn.
The series includes many of Havel's important works, from his first to his final. Each volume not only includes his plays, but also a bounty of supporting material - 12 essays, photos, biographies, and more. Together, the books will be a resource unavailable anywhere else.
Václav Havel first came to world attention as a playwright. Events and the power of his ideas launched him into the role of dissident, political prisoner, revolutionary, and finally, the President of Czechoslovakia (and later of The Czech Republic). Yet throughout all the world-altering events that placed him in the center of history, Havel felt that his essential calling was still the same: he was a man of the theater, a writer of absurdist drama.
Václav Havel passed away in December 2011. The series is being released in honor of what would have been his 76tth birthday and the 23rd anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the Czechoslovak revolution led by Havel which resulted in the downfall of the Communist regime.
The series includes the following volumes:
The Increased Difficulty of Concentration. A metaphysical farce, written by dissident Czechoslovak playwright (and future president) Václav Havel. Hummel, an academic, juggles lovers, philosophy, and the questions from a strange machine called Pazuk, while trying to make sense of his life. A new translation by St?pán Simek.
Leaving. The first play written by Václav Havel after his final term as President of The Czech Republic. Inspired by Lear and The Cherry Orchard, Havel writes of a man forced to leave the state-owned villa he has called home for years, when his time in public office has ended. A drama of ethics and politics with, as always, a touch of the absurd. This play has never before been published in the United States. It includes changes made by translator Paul Wilson during its American premiere.
The Memo. One of Václav Havel's most popular plays, in a new translation by Havel's most prolific translator, Paul Wilson. An office has adopted a new official language, Ptydepe, in an attempt to make communication more scientific. But the new language may truly be a tool for power. Havel's play was able to slip by the Communist Czech censors in 1965, despite its veiled political commentary.
The Pig, or Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig. Václav Havel's final theater piece, a shaggy-dog tale set at a pig roast and filled with music. Vladimír Morávek took an old dialogue of Havel's, combined it with Smetana's The Bartered Bride, and the resulting collage comments both on Communist Czechoslovakia and the post-Communist Czech era. Also included is Havel's first ever one-act, Ela, Hela, and the Hitch. These plays, translated by Edward Einhorn, have never before been published in English translation.
The Van?k Plays. Perhaps Václav Havel's best-known works. The character Van?k became a symbol for Czechoslovak dissidents during the Communist era. In the plays, Audience, Protest, and Unveiling, Van?k encounters people trapped by the moral dilemmas inherent in a Communist system. Also included is Havel's modern sequel, the previously unpublished Dozens of Cousins. All translated by the noted Czech-American writer, Jan Novák.
Theater 61 Press is a division of Untitled Theater Company #61 (UTC61), a Theater of Ideas: scientific, political, philosophical, and above all theatrical. In 2006, UTC61 presented the Havel Festival, a complete festival of Václav Havel's plays, at which many of these translations premiered. More recently, UTC61 presented the English language premiere of The Pig, or Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig.
Previous books from Theater 61 Press include The Velvet Oratorio (an oratorio performed at Lincoln Center for the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution); a new adaptation of Lysistrata; and Playing Dreidel with Judah Maccabee, an original Hanukkah play. More can be learned on the website, www.theater61press.com.