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Oral history of Czech theatre

Orální historie - Rozhovory s osobnostmi českého divadla

Brodská Božena

Brodská Božena interview

(* 27 July 1922, Prague), known as Bíba. Dancer, critic, historian of ballet, teacher.

Studied music at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts and dance theory at the Academy of Performing Arts (AMU) in Prague. Starting in the second half of the 1940s, she was engaged with the Práce Theatre Cooperative (Karlín Theatre), D 45, and the Vít Nejedlý Army Artists’ Ensemble in Prague. In the early 1950s, she began to teach at AMU’s Dance Faculty, earning a professorship in 1982.

Her husband was the actor Vlastimil Brodský (1920–2002). She is the mother of musician, songwriter, artist, actor, and writer Marek Brodský (* 1959).

Císař Jan

Císař Jan interview

(* 28 January 1932, Hradec Králové), dramaturg, historian, theorist, critic, teacher.

Studied theatre sciences at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU). In 1959, he began working as a dramaturg at the State Travelling Theatre Company; he was also a contributing editor for Divadlo (Theatre) magazine and the editor-in-chief of Divadelní noviny (Theatre News). In 1970, he was briefly the artistic director of the Jaroslav Průcha Theatre in Kladno, after which he spent two years as the director of the Kolín Regional Theatre. In the 1980s, he was the dramaturg for drama productions at Prague’s National Theatre and Vinohrady Theatre.

In the mid-1960s, Císař began lecturing at DAMU, where he was made an associate professor in 1966. He was the school’s dean in 1970–72, and was made a professor in 1985, after which he headed the Department of Drama Directing and Dramaturgy and the Department of Theory and Criticism.

Černý Jindřich

Černý Jindřich interview

(* 20 June 1930, Čáslav), theatre historian and critic, playwright, translator.

After receiving a degree in aesthetics and comparative literature from Charles University’s Faculty of Arts, he studied theatre sciences at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU), where he met his future wife Jarmila Hrubešová – who would later go on to be the long-time head of the Theatre Institute’s library and documents department. In 1952, after having completed his studies, he was sentenced for participating in an anti-government student group. He did his military service with the army work brigades. He later worked as editor-in-chief at DILIA, as a night watchman, in the Theatre Institute’s documents department, at the Office for the Study of the History of Czech Theatre, in the National Theatre’s archives and at its PR department. In 1991, he was made the director of the National Theatre, a function he held for two years.

His son Ondřej Černý (* 1962) is a theatre critic and translator, and was the director of the Theatre Institute in 1996–2007 and of the National Theatre in 2007–2012.

Eliáš Luděk

Eliáš Luděk interview

(* 29 July 1923, Slaný), actor, director, theatre director, writer, moderator.

At the start of the war, he was attending the real gymnasium (secondary grammar school) in Slaný. Three years later, he was interned at Terezín where, influenced by the “Kameradschaftsabend” theatre evenings, he decided to become involved in theatre. Also at Terezín, he met his future wife Eva Langerová (the niece of František Langer). He later passed through the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps as well. After the war, he did his military service with the Vít Nejedlý Army Artists’ Ensemble. He later acted with theatres in Slaný (1947–48), Písek (1948/49), České Budějovice (1950–55), and Ostrava (Petr Bezruč Theatre, 1956–80; director 1961–66). He also worked with the Ostrava television and radio studio and acted in many films and television programs.

Glancová Helena

Glancová Helena interview

(* 9 February 1938 in Prague) is a theatre director and teacher.

She graduated in the field of directing from the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where she studied between 1956 and 1961. Towards the end of her studies, she was already working as a director for Czech Radio. After completing her degree, Glancová was engaged by the National Theatre in Prague as a director’s assistant. In 1962, she went to the East Bohemian Theatre in Pardubice, where she held the position of director for three years. She then received an offer to collaborate with the Divadlo Za Branou (The Theatre Beyond the Gate), which was subsequently shut down in 1972. She then worked for the Lyra Pragensis Theatre. In 1990, the previously closed theatre was reopened as Divadlo Za branou II (The Theatre Beyond the Gate II), where Glancová remained until she retired in 1993.

However, she continues to collaborate with a number of other theatres. She has also taught at the Higher School of Performing Arts in Prague.

Over the course of her career, she has directed more than seventy productions.

Havlík Emil

Havlík Emil interview

(* 6 May 1927, Prague), puppeteer, translator.

Emil Havlík graduated from the Smíchov Grammar School in 1946 and went on to study at Charles University – initially Russian and Serbo-Croatian studies at the Faculty of Art, later transferring to the Faculty of Education and majoring in Czech. Emil’s relationship with the theatre started to develop during his childhood when his father was involved in establishing the Puppet Theatre of the Smíchov I Sokol Unit’s Puppetry Section, whose activities Emil revived in 1993. Havlík’s main engagement during his professional career was with the Central Puppet Theatre, which Jan Malík founded in Prague in 1949. Here Emil remained active from the theatre’s earliest days in 1949 until his official retirement in 1987, although he continued collaborate with the theatre even after that. Emil was also involved in educational activities at the Academy of Performing Arts. He performed in more than fifty productions and also translated a number of plays and professional texts.

Emil’s brother, Václav (1921-1996), was a puppet designer.

Kačer Jan

Kačer Jan interview

(* 3. 10. 1936 v Holicích), herec a režisér.

Vystudoval Keramickou školu v Bechyni, kde získal také první zkušenosti s působením v divadelním souboru. Po absolutoriu (1955) se přihlásil ke studiu režie na pražské Divadelní fakultě akademii múzických umění. Při Československém svazu mládeže založil soubor Holubáři, který posléze celý dostal nabídku angažmá do Ostravy, do Divadla Petra Bezruče. Kačer zde jako herec a režisér působil v letech 1959–64. Poté odešel do nově vznikajícího pražského Činoherního klubu (1964–74), dále hrál a režíroval ve Státním divadle v Ostravě (1976–80), v pražských Divadle E. F. Buriana (1979–81), Národním divadle (1983–2015) a v Divadle na Vinohradech (1986–90). V současnosti hraje v Divadle pod Palmovkou.

Má na svém divadelním kontě 70 režií a téměř 160 rolí. Vedle toho hojně působil v televizi a ve filmu. Jeho manželkou je herečka Nina Divíšková.

Klosová Ljuba

Klosová Ljuba interview

(* 27 June 1929, Hlinsko), theatre historian and teacher.

In 1948 Klosová began studying theatre sciences and literary criticism at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts in Prague, but theatre sciences was soon moved to the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU), where she worked as an assistant teacher after graduation. She was also the secretary of the Working Group of Czech Theatre Historians. She helped found the theatre studies department at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, whose mission was to write a History of Czech Theatre and a Dictionary of Czech Theatre.

She specialized in acting systems and in the history of Czech theatre in the 19th century.

Kolárová Eva

Kolárová Eva interview

(* 17 June 1929, Prague), theatrologist.

Eva Kolárová decided to follow a literary career while still a student at the grammar school in Tábor. She also enjoyed singing and won the national round of the Secondary School Games in 1947. Eva started to study literary science at the Charles University Faculty of Arts in 1948, where she met her future husband – the literary historian and translator Jaroslav Kolár. Her second field of study was theatre science, which was transferred to the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in 1950. Starting in 1966, she became a member of the professional staff and secretary of the Charles University Department of Theatre Science where her colleagues included Jan Kopecký, Milan Lukeš, Dana Kalvodová, and František Černý.

Other achievements include her co-authorship of the book Sto let Národního divadla (One Hundred Years of the National Theatre).

Kovářík Miroslav

Kovářík Miroslav interview

(* 15 August 1934, Prague), actor, reciter, moderator, author, teacher.

Kovářík studied at a special secondary school for future teachers, but his “poor ideological profile” forced him to work at the ČKD machine works before beginning his studies at Charles University’s Education Faculty. In 1962, he helped found the Pretty Small Theatre in Litvínov, which focused on stage interpretations of works by poets born in the 1920s and was inspired by Prague’s Semafor Theatre. The theatre was a success at the Jiráskův Hronov and Wolkrův Prostějov festivals, and also appeared at Prague’s Viola Theatre. The theatre ceased its activities in 1969. Kovářík also worked in the Ústí nad Labem offices of Czechoslovak Radio, moderated the Porta folk festival, and gave emerging artists a chance through his show The Green Quill (first live on stage and later on radio). He helped to popularize the work of Václav Hrabě.

Kratochvílová Zdena

Kratochvílová Zdena interview

(* 14. 11. 1936 v Praze), mimka, tanečnice, choreografka, režisérka, pedagožka.

Jako dítě docházela do hodin baletu ke Zdence Zabylové. V roce 1952 začala studovat na tanečním oddělení Státní taneční konzervatoře v Praze, jedním ze spolužáků byl Ladislav Fialka. Setkání s ním podpořilo její zájem o pantomimu. Po absolutoriu v roce 1956 krátce učila moderní tanec na Hudební škole v Domažlicích, než ji Filka přizval do nově vznikající pantomimické skupiny v Divadle Na zábradlí. Zahájili v roce 1959 inscenací Pantomima Na zábradlí. Působila zde 16 let. V roce 1976 spolu s Lídou Engelovou založily Kapesní divadlo. Neobyčejného úspěchu v Čechách i v zahraničí se dočkaly jednak pohádky s postavami Animuka a Anikroka a pak například inscenace pro dospělé Šatna na pláži.

Jako pedagožka byla činná na Hudebně dramatickém oddělení Konzervatoře v Praze a na pražské Divadelní fakultě Akademie múzických umění, a to na katedrách dramatické výchovy a autorské tvorby a pedagogiky.

Kronbauer Viktor

Kronbauer Viktor interview

(* 6 June 1949, Prague), theatre photographer.

Kronbauer graduated from the Secondary School of Industry in Prague. Originally a passionate amateur photographer, in the 1970s he became the in-house photographer for the Czech Philharmonic. In 1985–2000, he was employed as a photographer at the Theatre Institute in Prague. He considers himself a student of leading Czech photographer and graphic artist Jaroslav Krejčí. Today, he leads the Theatre Photography Workshop at the “Divadlo” (“Theatre”) festival in Pilsen.

He is the nephew of Jarmila Kronbauerová (1983–1968), an actress with the National Theatre in Prague.

Kröschlová Eva

Kröschlová Eva interview

(* 13 December 1926, Prague), dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, writer.

Kröschlová began to study dance under the guidance of her mother Jarmila Kröschlová (1893–1983), with whose dance troupe she performed in 1939–1949. She also took courses in kinetography, historical dances, and teaching. In Prague, she worked with the Music Theatre, the New Prague Madrigal Singers, the Jiří Srnec Black Light Theatre, and the La Fiamma ensemble. As a choreographer, she has worked on more than 80 productions with many different theatres. She taught at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU), where she was made an associate professor in 1990. She was also a member of the International Council of Traditional Music (ICTM) and is the long-time head of the Chorea Historica choral ensemble.

Křížková Jarmila

Křížková Jarmila interview

(* 23 September 1937, Prague), stage and costume designer.

Křížková is a graduate of the Václav Hollar School of Art (1953–57), and later received a degree in textile design from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (1957–60) and in scenography from the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (1960–63), where she studied under professor František Tröster. In 1963–92, she was a permanent member of the Příbram Municipal Theatre, and in the 1990s she worked for Czechoslovak Television.

Křížková has exhibited at four Prague Quadrennials and at many other exhibitions, including twice at the Salon of Scenography in Prague.

Machová Hana

Machová Hana interview

(born 16 September 1930 in Prague) is a dancer and choreographer.

As a child, she attended the ballet school run by Anna Gromwellová-Muffová and Zdeňka Zabylová. In 1945, she was accepted by the Dance Department of the State Conservatoire in Prague, from which she graduated in 1949. She wanted to continue studying choreography, but her entire class accepted a year-long engagement with the Zdeněk Nejedlý Theatre in Ústí nad Labem. Machová stayed there until 1958, at which time she became a choreographer for the Silesian Theatre in Opava, where she remained until 1963. She then held the same position at the Hudební divadlo v Karlíně (Karlín Music Theatre) in Prague from 1963 to 1970. In 1977, she returned to Ústí nad Labem, where she was the head of the ballet section from 1977 to 1988.

She has been involved in more than 150 productions as a dancer, librettist, choreographer, or director.

Mikeš Vladimír

Mikeš Vladimír interview

(* 11 August 1927, Choceň), translator, critic, essayist, poet, writer.

Mikeš studied Czech language and literature, Latin languages, and comparative literature at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts in Prague, from which he graduated in 1951. He worked freelance until 1992, when he began to lecture at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU), where he was made an associated professor in 1997. He was the school’s dean in 1997–2000. He became a professor in 1999, after which he headed the Department of Theatre Anthropology.

Milichovská Eva

Milichovská Eva interview

(* 4 June 1932, Bohumín), stage and costume designer, painter.

Eva Milichovská graduated from the Ohradní Grammar School in Prague. She did not pass the entrance examinations for the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design and consequently started as a draughtsperson for Stavoprojekt. The company soon recommended her for architectural school, in which she enrolled in 1952. After four semesters, the enthusiastic attendee of DISK Theatre performances decided to try the entrance interview for the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts, where, thanks to her architectural experience and sense for space, she captured the attention of Professor František Tröster. She graduated in 1959, but had already been given an engagement two years earlier by the Horácké Theatre in Jihlava. In 1961, Joan Brehms offered her a job at the South Bohemian Theatre in České Budějovice. Then Eva worked for a short time at the Municipal Theatre in Most before returning to Jihlava in 1969, where she remained until 1991.

She has over 200 stage and costumes designs to her name. In recent years, she has been devoting her time solely to figural painting.

Miška František

Miška František interview

(* 27 August 1919, Prague, † 11 February 2017, Prague), director, actor, teacher.

Miška attended a business academy and was involved in theatre on an amateur level, including during his time in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. In 1945, he earned his first professional acting engagement with the Kladno Municipal Regional Theatre, and he later appeared on stage in Prague as well: Realistic Theatre, State Film Theatre, and the Prague Municipal Theatre, where he worked as a director in 1965–84. He also appeared in numerous films. In the mid-1980s, he left the country, working as a director primarily in Germany but also in Switzerland and France.

His wife was the actress Ludmila Píchová (1923–2009). Their daughter is the actress Michaela Mišková (* 1949), and their granddaughter Debora Štolbová (* 1981) is also involved in acting.

Pokorný František

Pokorný František interview

(* 23 February 1933, Okříšky), dancer, choreographer, director, librettist, scriptwriter, dance critic, and dramaturg.

Pokorný graduated from Charles University’s Faculty of Education (1956) and the Dance and Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (1962). In 1961, he founded the Charles University Artists’ Ensemble, a modern dance troupe of which he was the artistic director and choreographer. He resurrected Taneční listy (Dance News), a newspaper originally banned by the communists after their takeover in February 1948, and also helped found the Festival of Pantomime in Litvínov. In 1968–71, he worked as a choreographer at Prague’s Semafor Theatre, and in 1971–93 he was the head of ballet at the F. X. Šalda Theatre in Liberec. In addition, he headed Czechoslovak Television’s ballet ensemble and taught at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (DAMU).

Ptáčková Kateřina

Ptáčková Kateřina interview

(born 6 November 1933 in Ostrava) is a theatrologist, journalist, and teacher.

She received a degree in art history and classical archaeology in 1956 from the Faculty of Arts of the Masaryk University, where she went on to receive a doctorate in art history and theatre science in 1967. She became an associate professor at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in 1996. After she arrived in Prague, she first worked at the Museum of Decorative Arts and the National Heritage Institute. In 1959, she took on a position at the Theatre Institute as an expert staff member of the Scenography Department and remained there until 1995.

She has lectured in Prague at the Faculty of Art of Charles University and the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts, in Olomouc at Palacký University, and in Brno at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts. As a historian and theoretician, she specialises primarily in the history of twentieth century scenography. In the past, she was a member of the Czech OISTAT (International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians) Centre.

She was married to the playwright, dramaturge, and actor Jaromír Ptáček (1925–2003).

Rybicki Witold

Rybicki Witold interview

(born 4 September 1927 in Karviná) is an actor and director.

He completed studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Łódź (1950), and the Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw (1967). His first name is sometimes specified as Wilhelm, Witold, or Vilém. In 1951, he accepted an engagement as an actor at the Polish Stage of the Těšín Theatre in Český Těšín; from 1966 to 1989, he was also a director at this venue. Starting in 1986, until he retired in 1991, he was also a member of the Czech Stage acting ensemble. He has directed over eighty productions and acted in fifty.

Říčařová-Vítková Věra

Říčařová-Vítková Věra interview

(* 25 April 1936 in Prague), puppeteer, stage and costume designer, writer.

Věra Říčařová-Vítková, a graduate of the Ceramics School in Bechyně, studied puppetry at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague from 1955 to 1959. In 1958, she was briefly engaged by the Radost Theatre in Brno. From 1959 to 1981, Věra was with the East Bohemian Puppet Theatre in Hradec Králové, with only a brief interruption when she went to the Kabaret Theatre in Pardubice. She was involved as an actress and designer in almost 40 productions.

Her life and artistic partner is František Vítek, whom she met when she was working in Brno. Their common path led to Hradec Králové.

Říhová Lya

Říhová Lya interview

(* 26 February 1928, Prague, † 23 November 2017, Prague), theatre scientist, editor.

Říhová originally studied musicology at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts, but she soon switched to theatre sciences, which she completed along with art history. After graduation, she worked as an editor at the Orbis publishing house in Prague. In 1956–86, she worked at the Office for the Study of Czech Theatre – a division of the Institute for Czech Literature at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague – as head of the working group for the Dictionary of Czech and Slovak Theatre. Later, she was a member of the editorial team of the Dictionary of National Theatre Artists and also worked as the office’s secretary.

She was also a member of the executive committee of IFTR (the International Federation for Theatre Research) and a member of the steering committee of the International Institute for Theatre Studies in Venice.

Scherl Adolf

Scherl Adolf interview

(* 18 August 1925, Prague; 3 April 2017, Prague), theatre scientist, theatre critic.

Scherl studied aesthetics and musicology at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts in Prague, receiving his doctorate in 1952. After graduation, he worked as an assistant in the aesthetics seminar, where he held the position of secretary to the dean. Later, he worked as a freelance theatre critic and collaborated with Divadlo (Theatre) magazine. From 1957 until his retirement in 1991, he worked at the Office for the Study of Czech Theatre at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Czech Literature.

He is a member of the Thalia Germanica international association.

His wife is the theatre theorist and radio journalist Slávka Dolanská (* 1927).

Smutný Jiří

Smutný Jiří interview

(* 1 April 1932, Prague), composer, conductor, teacher.

Smutný studied music composition and conducting at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts. After graduation, he became a répétiteur for vocal and opera studies. Two years later, in 1957, he left for the National Theatre, where he worked as répétiteur and as assistant to the theatre’s conductor and director until 1980. He also worked at the Czechoslovak State Song and Dance Ensemble and taught at the People’s School of Art the Jan Neruda Gymnasium in Prague.

Srnec  Jiří

Srnec Jiří interview

(born 29 August 1931 in Žalova u Prahy) is a theatre director, actor, composer, and artist

He graduated from the Higher School of Decorative Arts in Prague, and also completed piano studies at the State Conservatoire as well as studies in stage design at the puppetry department of the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU). In 1959 and 1960, he started using the “black cabinet” technique for the productions of Skupina 7/7 (The 7/7 Ensemble), which comprised graduates of DAMU’s puppetry department. In 1961, as a member of the Divadlo na Zábradlí (Theatre on the Balustrade), he established the Černé divadlo (Black Light Theatre), which he renamed in 1992 to the Černé divadlo Jiřího Srnce (Black Light Theatre Srnec). Most of his productions were introduced primarily abroad until the 1990s, as they did not have their own stage in then-Czechoslovakia. In addition, in 1986 Srnec founded the synthetic Imaginativ Theatre. Srnec has more than fifty productions to his credit.

Šlezingrová Jiřina

Šlezingrová Jiřina interview

(* 12 April 1925, Brno), dancer, choreographer.

Šlezingrová began studying ballet as a five-year-old at the Ivo Váňa Psota school for ballet in Brno. In 1939 she became a soloist at the Brno Municipal Theatre, and in 1945 she was made a soloist at the Opava Theatre, but two years later she returned to Brno, where she was active with the State Theatre for the next 15 years. From 1962 to 1975, she was a ballet soloist and choreographer at the Oldřich Stibor Theatre in Olomouc.

Šlezingrová also taught at the Brno conservatory.

Štědroň Miloš

Štědroň Miloš interview

(born 9 February 1942 in Brno) is a composer and musicologist.

In 1964, he received a degree in Bohemian studies and musicology from the Faculty of Arts of the Masaryk University (FA MU). He also studied composition and music theory at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno from 1965 to 1970 and later studied experimental and electronic music. Since 1972, he has taught at the FF MU Department of Music, where he was named an associate professor in 1988 and subsequently became a full professor in 1994. In addition to his professional work, which focuses mainly on Leoš Janáček, he composes stage music for theatre productions as well as chamber operas and musicals. He is one of the founders of the Brno-based Divadlo Husa na provázku (Goose on a String Theatre).

His son, Miloš ORSON Štědroň, is also a composer.

Štěpán Václav

Štěpán Václav interview

(* 1935, Tišice), historian.

After completing secondary school, Štěpán studied history at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts. As a recent graduate, in 1958 he was given a position at the Regional Centre for Education in Ostrava. After this, he worked at the Military History Institute and the Institute for Czech Literature’s S. K. Neumann Office. He defended his dissertation in 1967. In November 1968, he decided to emigrate to the United Kingdom, although he returned soon thereafter for family reasons. He was the head of the Documentations Department of the newly established Miroslav Kouřil Scenographic Institute (1957–74), and later of Documentations Department at the Theatre Institute (1974–79), which he left to work at the National Museum’s theatre department (1980–92).

His daughter Bára (* 1959) is an actress.

Šulc Bohuslav

Šulc Bohuslav interview

(* 5 September 1936, Mladá Boleslav), puppeteer, director of puppet theatre.

At age 17, after completing a two-year program of economics, Šulc became a student (and later, business partner) of Josef Skupa at the Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre. He took over the task of controlling the Hurvínek character from Mrs. Jiřina Skupová, eventually mastering the art of puppeteering and enriching the character with many new comic gags. He also created several cabaret performances, for instance about Marcel Marceau or Louis Armstrong.

Tálská Eva

Tálská Eva interview

(* 17 April 1944 in Brno) is a theatre director.

She received a degree in directing at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno in 1968. Together with some of her fellow students, including Zdeněk Pospíšil, Petr Oslzlý, and Petr Scherhaufer, she stood by the establishment of the Divadlo Husa na provázku (Goose on a String Theatre) in Brno in 1967, where she was a director from 1972 to 2002. In addition, in 1992 she founded the Studio Dům experimental theatre centre, which aimed to establish a connection between theatre schools and original stage productions. A number of her former students are currently theatre professionals. In 2003, Tálská received the Czech Centre ASSITEJ (Association internationale du théâtre de l'enfance et de la jeunesse) award for her continuous work to support the development of theatre for children and young people. She has been involved in more than sixty productions as author or director.

Trávová Hana

Trávová Hana interview

(* 10 September 1925, Bor/Tachov), movement teacher.

Trávová started secondary school in 1936, but the Nuremberg race laws prevented her from graduating. The same laws forced her to leave the Sokol athletic association. She was also a member of the Czechoslovak Scouts. She eventually did a requalifying course in physical education, but from 1939 until the end of the Second World War she was interned at Terezín concentration camp, where she worked in a woodworking shop. She also attended music and dance performance, and after liberation she took a three-month secondary school equivalency course so she could study history and physical education at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Education. After graduating in 1950, she began to teach physical education at the university’s medical and education faculties, and in 1953 she began teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts. She later joined the Department of Physical Education at DAMU, where she worked until 1988.

Veltruská Jarmila

Veltruská Jarmila interview

(* 22 June 1937, Prague), theatre scientist.

Shortly after the Second World War, Veltruská’s diplomat father was sent to work in London. Since he opposed the communist takeover in 1948, the family could not return home to Czechoslovakia. She spent seven years at a religious boarding school, after which she studied English language and literature at university in London. In 1959, she followed her husband, the aesthetician Jiří Veltruský, to Paris, where she found a new home. She attended lectures on 17th-century French history at the Sorbonne and began to take an interest in comparing medieval theatre in Bohemia, England, and France. With time, her interest narrowed to medieval liturgical theatre.

Her most important work was a study on the oldest Czech drama, Mastičkář, which she published in 1985 (Jarmila F. Veltrusky: A Sacred Farce from Medieval Bohemia).

Věžník Václav

Věžník Václav interview

(* 1 August 1930, Brno), opera director, teacher

After completing secondary school in 1949, he began to study music and theatre sciences at Masaryk University’s Faculty of Arts in Brno, but a year later the new department of opera directing was opened at the city’s Janáček Academy of Performing Arts (JAMU), and so he went there instead. From 1954 to 1992, he worked at the opera of the Brno State Theatre. In the 1990s, he taught at JAMU, where earned his professorship.

He gained fame for his direction of the operas of Leoš Janáček. Overall, he has directed more than 150 productions at all operas in the Czech Republic, plus numerous foreign productions as well. He has collaborated with artists František Tröster, Ladislav Vychodil, and Vojtěch Štolfa.

Vítek František

Vítek František interview

(* 14 September 1929, Brno), woodcutter, sculptor, puppet-maker, scenographer, puppeteer.

Vítek earned his trade certificate as a journeyman sculptor and woodcutter in 1948. For health reasons, he completed only one course at Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design. In 1953–55 he worked as a woodcutter at the Regional Puppet Theatre in Mariánské Lázně, and in 1955–58 he was employed at the Radost Theatre in Brno. In 1958, he helped found the “Drak” East Bohemian Puppet Theatre in Hradec Králové, where he worked as puppet designer and scenographer until 1981.

His wife is the puppeteer Věra Vítková-Říčařová (* 1936), and the couple has been an inseparable team in their professional and private lives since the late 1950s, when they met at Brno’s Radost Theatre.

Oral history of the Czech theatre

This project was launched in 2015 and seeks to capture the memories of important figures in the field of Czech theatre in audio recordings (usually around four hours long) and, in most cases, also in a short video recording (10–20 minutes long). The recordings are followed by a report of the conversation, which offers a summary of discussed topics and personalities, after every 15-20 minutes. Photographs and personal documents (both in digital format), provided by the narrator, are also available.

The Oral History Module provides a list of figures who have recorded their memories, along with a brief profile, current photograph, and the interview protocol. Full recording, including all the additional materials, is supposed to be studied by registered researchers in the Information and Documentation Department of ATI only. Feel free to contact Lucie Čepcová: lucie.cepcova(at) if you are interested.

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