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Cabaret Hrabal: Marking the Centenary of the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal

A groundbreaking evening of literary experimentation and innovation celebrating the centenary of Bohumil Hrabal, one of the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century. Inspired by Hrabal’s work, brand new commissions from some of the UK’s most exciting poets, artists, conceptualists, theatre makers and dramaturgs explore Hrabal’s magic world under the curatorship of poet SJ Fowler.

On the 3rd July eight British artists will explore and rediscover Hrabal’s work while turning it into new artistic forms. Starting with Engel Eyes, a stage reading of Hrabal’s short story (from The Death of Mr Baltisberger), dramaturg Eva Danickova will present Hrabal as a master of slapstick, a pursuer of the grotesque. The filmmaker Josh Alexander will follow with his visual interpretation of Handbook for the Apprentice Palaverer while artist Stephen Emmerson will involve the audience in a participatory conceptual performance. There will also be Zoe Skoulding’s sound poetry based on Hrabal’s story Diamond Eye while Sarah Kelly will turn The Death of Mr Baltisberger into a series of integrated text sculptures while the audience watches the process. Poetry will also come in the form of a literary experiment by Tom Jensk and Marcus Slease in a direct response to Hrabal’s novels Closely Observed Trains and Too Loud a Solitude.  An extract from an award winning, highly expressive theatre piece A Boring Afternoon by artistic director Lucinka Eisler will close the evening celebrating this inspirational writer. 

Bohumil Hrabal (1914 - 1997), designated ‘the last adherent to the Czech interwar Avant-garde’, the ‘great post-war primitivist’, the ‘successor to Hasek’ (author of The Good Soldier Svejk), and ‘the beer-swilling clown of modern Czech literature’, was a writer, a bon vivant, a railway dispatcher during the Nazi occupation, a traveling salesman, a steel worker, a recycling worker, a stagehand… Though best known in the West for his novels Closely Observed Trains (and its 1969 Oscar winning film adaptation), Too Loud a Solitude and I Served the King of England from the 1970s, Hrabal first came to general public notice with a collection of short stories juxtaposing the darkness of history with the comic, commonplace events of the everyday. Although heavily censored by the communist regime and temporarily banned from publishing following the Soviet occupation, Hrabal published collections of short stories, essays and novels which have been translated into nearly thirty languages.

Event information:

Cabaret Hrabal, Doors: 8 pm / The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD

Tickets: £6 advance / 7£ on the door

For further information and all press enquiries please contact:

Renata Clark on clarkova@czechcentre.org.uk / 020 7759 0072

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CzechCentreLnd

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/londonczechcentre

Web: http://london.czechcentres.cz/programme/travel-events/cabaret-hrabal/

The Czech Centre London is a government funded cultural agency whose mission is to actively promote Czech culture in the UK. Its programme covers visual and performing arts, film, literature, music, architecture, design and fashion.  www.czechcentre.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

Cabaret Hrabal participants

SJ Fowler is a poet, artist, curator & vanguardist. He works in the modernist and avant garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance. He has published six collections of poetry and been commissioned by the Tate, Reel Festivals, the Liverpool Biennial and the London Sinfonietta. He has been translated into 13 languages and has performed at venues across the world, from Mexico City to Erbil, Iraq. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine and is the curator of the Enemies project. He is presenting and co-curating Cabaret Hrabal.

Josh Alexander is a London based artist who makes experimental film and photography. In collaboration with artist Luke Montgomery, Josh’s work has featured in various exhibitions including Joint Ventures organised by Space In Between in 2012. He made the music video for Drowned At Sea by Fairewell. Josh is part of A616, a collaboration with Erkembode; they are currently working on a series of moving image works. In May 2014 Josh had his first solo exhibition Light on Paper at the Hardy Tree Gallery, London. For the event, Josh Alexander will be presenting a visual interpretation of 'Handbook for the Apprentice Palaverer' in the form of a moving image piece.

Eva Daníčková works in London and internationally as a dramaturg, librettist and translator of plays and prose (A. Goldflam, M. Horoščák, Z. Svěrák). Eva studied dramaturgy at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She founded Boii Theatre in 2010, translating and producing Czech plays (The Green Room at the Etcetera Theatre, Boiled Heads at the Tristan Bates Theatre and others). She wrote and produced two operas for the Tête à Tête Opera Festival at the Riverside Studios in 2011 (The Moonflower) and 2012 (Insein). As a dramaturg, she has worked with Parrabbola, Patrick Dineen (The Golden Boy, Unity Theatre Liverpool) and on her own projects. Eva reads and translates Czech play scripts for the National Theatre and the Royal Court International Department.

Lucinka Eisler is Joint Artistic Director of Inspector Sands and has co-created all of their shows to date. For Inspector Sands she has performed in Hysteria or If That's All There Is. Other acting work includes The Magic Flute (Complicite at ENO / DNO) and Macbeth - The Abuse of Power (Contender Charlie/ China Plate). Directing credits include Rock Pool, Portrait of the Ordinary Festival Goer and A Life in 22 Minutes (all for Inspector Sands) and A Quiet Afternoon, (Stamping Ground Theatre for Riverside Studios/ BAC). As assistant director Lucinka has worked with Rufus Norris (National Theatre; Young Vic) and Theatre O (Barbican). Lucinka is a visiting lecturer at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Lucinka will perform a theatre sketch A Boring Afternoon from The Death of Mr Baltisberger.

Stephen Emmerson's publications include: A never ending poem.. (Zimzalla) Telegraphic Transcriptions (Dept Press / Stranger Press), No Ideas but in Things (Dark Windows Press), & Albion (Like This Press). Installations / exhibitions include: Albion, The Dark Would, Visual Poetics at the South Bank Centre, and Pharmacopoetics, Illuminations, and Placebo at the Farringdon Factory. His work for the Hrabal celebration is a participatory installation centred around the concept of placebos and language control.

Tom Jenks has published five books of poetry, co-organises The Other Room reading series and website, and administers the avant ? objects imprint zimZalla. Building on the texts of Bohumil Hrabal, Tom will be presenting a brand new conceptual poetry project.

Sarah Kelly
is an interdisciplinary text artist and poet, working predominately with handmade paper sculpture. She has published widely and is the author of locklines (KFS Press). Performances and exhibitions include The London Poetry Festival, Saison Poetry Library and MACBA. For the event Sarah will be reworking the book The Death of Mr.Baltisberger into a series of integrated text sculptures.

Marcus Slease was born in Portadown, N. Ireland but moved to Las Vegas at the age of 11.,He currently lives in London and teaches English as a foreign language. His latest book is Rides (Blart Books, 2014). For the event, Marcus Slease will be responding to Hrabal's Closely Observed Trains and Too Loud A Solitude.

Zoë Skoulding is a poet, translator, editor and critic. She has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Museum of Disappearing Sounds (Seren, 2013). She is Senior Lecturer in the School of English at Bangor University. She will be presenting a sound-based response to Hrabal's Diamond Eye.

You can download the press release here: