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19 Sep 2008 00:00 - 13 Dec 2008 00:00

Vaclav Havel Season

The Czech Centre is proud to announce the upcoming Vaclav Havel Season, in partnership with the Orange Tree Theatre, Portobello Books, the British Library and English PEN. Highlights of the season include President Havel speaking about his memoirs To the Castle and Back at an event hosted by the British Library and the much anticipated English language premiere of his latest play Leaving at the Orange Tree Theatre.

The Artistic Director of the Orange Tree, Sam Walters introduces the season:

The British premiere of LEAVING by Vaclav Havel is the high point of a relationship between the playwright and a small theatre in Richmond that began over 30 years ago. The Orange Tree Theatre chose to present audience and Private View in January 1977. During rehearsals Charter 77 burst on to the world and Vaclav Havel became overnight the most famous living playwright in the world. I immediately decided to follow the two Vanek plays with The Memorandum and at the same time the theatre created a documentary about Czechoslovakia, organised a petition pleading the cause of their beleaguered playwright and his colleagues, plastered the walls of the stairs leading up to the theatre with press cuttings monitoring the events in Czechoslovakia and marched on the Czech Embassy with Tom Stoppard at their head.

Vaclav Havel is very important to the Orange Tree Theatre. We have presented 10 of his plays. My wife and I were in Prague during the Velvet Revolution, last year the theatre hosted a Celebration of the 30th anniversary of Charter 77, and we are now presenting the first production of Leaving outside Prague.

Sam Walters

Artistic Director / Orange Tree Theatre


Download Vaclav Havel Season brochure:

Press release


The English Language Premiere

19 Sept – 25 Oct & 1 – 13 Dec , Mon – Sat 7.45 pm

Sat matinees: 3 pm (not 20 Sept or 6 Dec)

Thurs matinees: 25 Sept, 2, 9, 16 Oct, 4 Dec, 2.30 pm

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond

Chancellor Rieger is leaving office. But does leaving office necessarily mean that he, his ‘long-time companion’ and his extended family have to leave the state villa, which has been their home for years? While his former secretary, and the former secretary to his former secretary, grapple with the mechanics of change and his family prepare to face an uncertain future, the Chancellor himself considers his legacy amidst visits from journalists, an infatuated student and deputy minister Klein.


The play has echoes of both King Lear and The Cherry Orchard, addresses the themes of change, dispossession and the passage of power from one generation to the next amidst the chaos of leaving.


Mountain Hotel & Audience

29 Oct – 8 Nov & 17 – 21 Nov, Mon – Sat 7.45 pm

Sat matinees: 1 & 8 Nov, 3 pm

Thurs Matinees: 30 Oct, 6 Nov, 20 Nov, 2.30 pm
Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond

Written in the 1970s, the MOUNTAIN HOTEL houses a motley group of “guests” striving to live with each other. Among them a blocked writer, a sentimental Russian count, and Vilem Pechar sunbathing on the grass. There’s Rachel whose life appears to revolve around knitting and sex, Vilem’s wife ministering to his infidelities and Liza coping with the count. Two of the guests look on in silence. The hotel staff has problems too; and five of the men are called Joseph.

In AUDIENCE, the first of the Vanek plays, Vanek is working in a brewery (as Havel did) and finds himself summoned to meet his boss. Might there be a better job on offer, where he will not have to handle heavy barrels of beer? But might there be a catch? Who exactly is going to be doing who a favour? And just how much beer is Vanek expected to consume before he finds out?


Private View & Protest

10 – 15 & 24 –28 Nov, Mon-Sat 7.45

Sat matinee: 15 Nov, 3 pm

Thurs Matinees: 13, 27 November, 2.30 pm

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond

In the 1970s, after the “Prague spring” was over, and Havel’s plays were no longer acceptable in Czechoslovakia, he created the character of Vanek, a semi- autobiographical dissident writer, who appeared in short plays secretly disseminated around the Prague artistic underground. In the three Havel plays we meet Vanek first at work (in AUDIENCE, shown with MOUNTAIN HOTEL), then visiting friends and finally engaged in his “dissident” activities.

Michael and Vera invite Vanek to a very PRIVATE VIEW of their newly re-furbished flat. They want to show off the new records they bought when abroad, their art acquisitions, the gothic Madonna and to offer their friend bourbon from the States and groombles served with woodpeak. But why does he seem to be withholding his approval? PROTEST concerns the arrest of a pop musician. Vanek is invited to the house of Stanek, a well-known writer and media figure. But why has he been invited? And is it fortunate that he happens to have in his pocket a petition protesting at the singer’s arrest?


Vaclav Havel: playwright & politician


Saturday Seminar

15 Nov, 10.30 am – 2.30 pm

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond


Havel Bonanza

Sat 22, 29 Nov & 6 Dec

11am - Audience & Private View

3 pm - Mountain Hotel & Protest

7.45pm - Leaving

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond


Vaclav Havel


19 September – 13 December 2008

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond

The exhibition dedicated to Vaclav Havel, one of the most significant personality of contemporary Czech and European history, explores not only Vaclav Havel’s work but also the time and events which had a great influence on his cultural and political activities. The exhibition panels feature biographical facts as well as archive photographs, documents or letters offering an insight into his life and work until May 2008 when his latest play Leaving premiered in Prague. In collaboration with Vaclav Havel Library. www.vaclavhavellibrary.org


To the Castle and Back:
Vaclav Havel in Conversation with Sir John Tusa

Sat 27 September, 3 pm

6 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

The great dissident – turned politician reflects with wit and candour on the remarkable challenge of becoming the first president of the Czech Republic following the collapse of Soviet bloc communism. Presented in association with British Library, English PEN and Portobello Books.


To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel. Translated by Paul Wilson, 400 pp, Portobello Books, £20


‘A political memoir like no other…by the end you will have a remarkable feel for Havel’s intricate personality – spiky, shy and under-confident but inwardly tough – as well as a compelling record of what candour and moral courage can achieve.' The Economist (US edition)      


Citizen Havel
+Q&A with director Miroslav Janek

20 November, 8.30 pm
Gate Cinema, 87 Notting Hill Gate, London W11
Box office: 0871 704 2058



After the split of Czechoslovakia in 1992, former political dissident, leader of the Velvet Revolution, playwright, and essayist Václav Havel became the first president of a new country, the Czech Republic. Such events are not commonplace so, from day one, he permitted his friend, filmmaker Pavel Koutecký, to be with him, to capture as much of it as possible, whether in the Prague Castle or around the world. The result is Citizen Havel, a feature-length documentary of never-before-seen footage that provides an intimate look at a man thrust into the spotlight of international politics and celebrity, trying to maintain a balance between public and personal life while bringing his nation out of its communist past and into a free, democratic future. (Miroslav Janek, Pavel Koutecky, CZ/US, 2008, 120’)


Vaclav Havel Season
is organized by the Czech Centre in collaboration with the Orange Tree Theatre, Portobello Books, English PEN, British Library and Vaclav Havel Library.



30 Kensington Palace Gardens
W8 4QY London
United Kingdom


From: 19 Sep 2008 00:00
To: 13 Dec 2008 00:00


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