Václav Havel, RIP
Posted 18 December 2011 - 10:06 PM
Appreciationin The New York Times.
In letters to his wife from prison, Mr. Havel, who died on Sunday, expressed his artistic vision. While confessing that he was not a “divadelnik,” a professional “for whom theater is the only imaginable vocation,” he also wrote of theater as “a kind of immediate and vivid enactment of the very mystery of human existence.”
As a playwright, he had a relatively small body of work, and in light of his political career it would be easy to think of his theatrical work as minor. But Mr. Havel occupied a special place in the world of theater. Although playwrights from Bertolt Brecht to Athol Fugard have instilled their work with a fervid political commitment, only Mr. Havel went from being a prisoner of a state to the leader of that state.
Václav Havel’s career and oeuvre can be divided into three periods: the playwright of the 1960s, influenced by the absurdist theater of Beckett and Ionesco; the dissident of the 1970s and 1980s; and then the president (1989–2003). To anyone who might be tempted to emphasize only one of these three facets or to set them in stark contrast to one another, he has just responded by writing a new play, The Departure, which could just as well have been called The Comedy of Power. For, with Havel, theater and politics are never far apart. After all, in November 1989 in Prague, the Civic Forum—the crucible of the new democracy—was created in a theater with the prophetic name of the Magic Lantern. The Velvet Revolution itself is his best play, a theatrical revolution in which the people were invited to play the roles themselves. Milan Kundera wrote at the time: “The way in which he led the struggle was fascinating not just from a political point of view, but from an aesthetic one as well. It was the last prestissimo movement of a sonata written by a very great master.”
Posted 18 December 2011 - 10:23 PM
Posted 20 December 2011 - 01:02 PM
Pulling out all the stops for the funeral.
More on the plays.
Not going to heaven, though:
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