stage adaptation and directed by Jan Klata
translated by Otokar Fischer
set design Miroslaw Kaczmarek
choreography Maćko Prusak
dramaturgy Iva Klestilová a Ladislav Stýblo
assistant director Matej Synak
interpreter to the creative team Paulina Dobosz
premiere 2 March 2019
Jakub Albrecht, Tomáš Dianiška, Tereza Dočkalová, Vendula Fialová, Martin Hruška, Jan Hušek, Milan Mikulčík, Jan Teplý, Ondřej Veselý, Kamila Trnková, Ivana Wojtylová, Adam Vacula, Jan Vlasák
Whether we face evil, are fascinated by it or just take advantage of it, we most likely have an idea about what it looks like. But what does good look like today?
This opus magnum by the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is one of the most fundamental texts of European literature. The metaphysical deal-making of a human being with the devil attracts theatre adaptations with periodical regularity. This original interpretation by the controversial Polish director Jan Klata works with the heretical idea that the devil is actually quite a pleasant being and that we all have already signed a contract with him anyway. A wild stage collage of pop-culture references provides testimony about the anxiety caused by the current spiritless world in which it is, however, still struggling to find some remains of humanity.
“The Polish director Jan Klata is not a theoretician who would study relentlessly each word of the lengthy oeuvre. (…) He shares images and visions that Faust’s story evokes for him. And they are worth seeing. (…) Faust, as portrayed by the actor Jan Teplý, is an average stud in a leather jacket, our contemporary struggling with depression, frustrated with life. (…) Mephistopheles, performed by Tereza Dočkalová, is a slim androgynous being. (…) In a white jumper with a hoodie over her head, with a small pale face and a mighty irony sharp as a knife. This actress is capable of taming a guy like Faust and leading him where she wants. (…) The director ironizes the world of pop culture, while at the same time making use of its methods and stereotypes. (…) Klata, as a true theatre maker with a sense for show and self-presentation, walks on thin ice. But no one can accuse him of superficiality. (…) The structure of the quickly changing images from a Mephistopheles road movie, music and choreography numbers (apart from a few moments) meets the needs of the audience and their desire to be entertained.”
MARIE RESLOVÁ, AKTUÁLNĚ.CZ, 5 March 2019
Jan Klata (1973), dramatist, a respected theatre director of European merit, studied directing at the Theatre Academy in Warsaw and then moved to Krakow to the famous National Academy of Theatre Arts where he also studied under a legend of Polish directing – Krystian Lupa. His debut adaptation of Gogol’s The Government Inspector (2003), an open critique of the moral decline of Poland of the 1970s, became a genuine social occasion and catapulted him amongst the leading personages of the Polish cultural scene. He has directed dozens of productions on stages in Poland and all around Europe.
In his work, Klata often reinterprets classic texts and reflects on current burning issues through them. He sees directing as “theatre sampling” – just like a DJ, he also adds external elements into a piece and creates a unique theatre expression. Klata’s productions are always socially and politically committed, they stir up discussions and scandals: as was the case of variation H., criticising the new regime, which managed to asset-strip the ideals of the anti-bureaucratic social movement Solidarity, or an adaptation of J. Słowacki Fanta$ie, which analysed modern Polish capitalism (both at Teatr Wybrzeże Gdańsk). Among other pieces which provoked some discussion, one can mention The Vatican Cellars about a superficial understanding of Christian belief and the documentary production Transfer! describing the fates of relocated Poles and Germans after WW2 (both at Teatr Współczesny Wrocław). His original vision, an ability to see the symptoms of the times and a rebel-like temperament brought him fame, renown, but also animosity – mainly on the side of the official administration which led to his dismissal from the position of director of the Stary Teatr (Old Theatre) in Krakow. He worked there between 2013 and 2017 and produced there a number of exceptional works: The Wedding, Trilogy, Enemy of the People, Ubu Roi, etc.
Jan Klata received several awards such as the most significant Polish theatre award – the Konrad Swinarski Award and the magazine Polityka Passport Award. He received the prestigious European theatre award for outstanding theatre directors (Premio Europa Realtà Teatrali) last year for “shifting of theatre poetics and co-creating a new one”.
Divadlo pod Palmovkou was formed by artists such as Jaroslav Dudek, Pavel Háša, Václav Lohniský, Otomar Krejča and Jan Grossman. The European premiere of Who is Afraid of Virginia Woolf, attended by the author Edward Albee himself, took place here in 1963.
From the beginning of the millennium, the theatre has been tormented by devastating floods and for a certain time disappeared from public life. Michal Lang became the new director and artistic head of the theatre in 2013, and with his new ensemble brought the theatre life back to the reconstructed former premises in September 2015.
The ambitious repertoire is dominated by world classics as well as new plays focusing on burning themes. The Palmoffka Studio opened in 2015, and is represented by the author and actor Tomáš Dianiška (Talent of 2016), who creates the dramaturgical direction of the theatre focused primarily on young artists and current and provoking themes. The theatre has organised a festival of Central-European theatre PALM OFF FEST since 2016.
The theatre is open to international cooperation and the renowned Polish director Jan Klata followed up on his very successful production of Measure for Measure (Theatre Critics’ Award 2018) here with his adaptation of Faust in April 2019. The Hungarian director Vilmos Vajdai will stage Ostrovsky’s drama A Profitable Position here in autumn 2019.
Palmovka introduced its work last year at the Flora Theatre Festival with their production of Jan Nebeský’s Nora, awarded the Theatre Newspaper Award 2016/17 and the Thalia award for Tereza Dočkalová in the main role.
photo: Petr Neubert