Česká centra, Czech Centres

Česká centra / Czech centres - logo


21 Nov 2019 20:00

Theatre on the Balustrade: Velvet Havel

Václav Havel - the dramatic genius, the persecuted dissident, the man of truth and ideals but also a lover of good beer and pretty women. A portrait of the first post-1989 Czech president presented as a modern-day musical, Velvet Havel is a multi-award-winning production from the cult Prague The Theatre on the Ballustrade.

The title refers to the memorable Velvet Revolution that took place in Autumn 1989 in then Czechoslovakia, and this unique cabaret-style musical, in repertoire since 2014, presents the life, work, and multifaceted personality of Václav Havel – and  is as much a light-hearted comedy as a serious 90-minute drama. Philosophical contemplations are balanced by playful songs from the acclaimed Czech composer Miloš Orson Štědroň, performed by a live band. It is through these tunes that the play´s characters are given a voice, a chance to have their say concerning the thoughts and actions of Václav Havel, already a legend during his lifetime.

The play´s storyline follows his public, as well as his private life, focusing on political activities and their outcomes - such as imprisonment following his decision to become a spokesman for the famed Charter 77. From the beginning to the very height of his political career as president, the storyline features Havel´s life-long friends, family relations and love interests. The inspiration behind his writings is personified by the occasional ´femmes fatales´; his first wife Olga, an extraordinary motherly figure who played a vital role in his life and his uncle Miloš Havel, a charming showman and a skilful entrepreneur, who owned and ran the famous Lucernafilm Production Company.

 As the characters´ glittering musical performances intermingle with quotes from Havel´s timeless literary legacy, the play reveals the deeply humane nature behind the celebrated facade of one of the greatest men in modern Czech history…. As one theatre critic stated:They take Havel´s golden halo away. Had he written it himself, it would probably have looked like this.“

Director: Jan Fric
Set Designers: David Cerny, Jan Fric
Costume Designer: Lucia Skandikova
Music and Play: Milos Orson Stedron
Cast:  Petr Jenista, Miloslav Konig, Dita Kaplanova, Anezka Kubatova, Vojtech Vondracek
Band: Milos Orson Stedron, Pavel Fiedler, Jan Svamberg
Duration: 75 minutes without interval
In Czech with English surtitles
Premiere: May 2014
Five Czech Theatre Critics’ Awards in 2014 – The Best Show of the Year, Best New Play, Best Music, Best Actor, Best Actress

Tickets: £20

“Velvet Havel is teetering on the edge of cabaret and musical. One musical number follows another, the actors’ singing is accompanied by a live band. The production is not a linear narrative it rather skips freely back and forth throughout time. Similarly, the composer works loosely with the music, which appears as a mix of styles, absorbing various musical styles of the 20th century (from swing to rap). The lead actor Miloslav Konig has extensive experience in musicals (most recently starring in The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Michal Pavlicek), the exuberance of the energy he puts into his singing is therefore not surprising.”  
Vojtěch Poláček, kulturissimo.cz

“The actors perform with love and it can be assumed that they regard Havel as a unique personality; in their irony there is no sign of malicious mocking, but empathy. They assemble Havel’s life as an amusing play full of incredible breaks and paradoxes, and primarily portray him as a mortal man, a human being made of flesh and bones whom they respect, but who does not need to be put on a pedestal with false pathos. Indeed, Havel always distanced himself from such attitudes and would undoubtedly be amused by this ironic portrait and may even add some funny pranks to it.”
Jana Machalická, Lidové noviny


Organised in collaboration with

Part of Czech Velvet 1989 – 2019 Festival
Festival of Arts, Film, Theatre & Music
1-29 November 2019


Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch, London, E1 6LA


21 Nov 2019 20:00


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

Remind me
This event has already started.