The audience will be transported to a forest that is not accessible to the public. Eight short pieces from the life of Ukrainians, which are a report by the lyricist Anastasia Kosodia about “ordinary lives” in a bleeding country. This is one of the productions attracted by the twelfth edition of the AKCENT International Festival of Documentary Theatre with this year’s theme: heaven / hell / paradise. It will take place from 16 to 27 November at the Archa Theatre in Prague. In seven exceptional productions, it will present theatre artists from the domestic and international scene, whose work stems from deep personal motivations and touches upon significant events of the contemporary world. Tickets are currently on sale on the Archa Theatre website.
“Ukrainian artists have found themselves in a very difficult situation due to Russian aggression. We watch with horror the news from the battlefield. We simply do not hear from artists who are in a country where war is raging. They have lost their audience at home and their voice does not reach us. That is why this year we have included a play by the young Ukrainian writer Anastasia Kosodia,” says Ondřej Hrab, director of the Archa Theatre. According to him, the production entitled Eight Short Pieces from the Life of Ukrainians for Western Audiences is a powerful emotional statement by the writer herself, director Jana Svobodová and an international group of five women, speaks the language of contemporary theatre and is deeply rooted in Ukrainian cultural tradition. Anastasia Kosodii will be present for a discussion after the performance. On the second day, 19 November, Eight Short Pieces from the Life of Ukrainians for Western Audiences will be part of the Night of Theatres programme, when Prague’s theatres open to the public. Audiences will get a backstage look and see the performance completely free of charge.
From the opposite end of Europe, Naples, Italy, nine young actors who have been cast in Sorrentino films, starred in Netflix series and won an Italian Oscar for a short film will come to Prague to tell their story. But they aspire to become professional actors, to write a play, to be poets.
“Alessandra works in a bar, Domenico grinds car bodies in the family business, Daniela cashes late into the night at a pizzeria, Luigi teaches economics at a high school, Lorenzo plays football for money, Alessandro DJs at a disco. They want to make it, they want to be the best, they want to be seen. They want to live their big dream. And that’s what the play Perché non io is about? / Why not me?, which frames their stories in powerful metaphorical images,” says Jana Svobodová, the dramaturge of the Akcent festival, who is a pioneer of documentary theatre in the Czech Republic. All nine actors from Italy even went through her workshop based on “extreme listening”. “It is a method that leads the artists to independent creation based on the principle of mutual respect. The text was written in the form of conversations. The actors themselves control the lights and sound on stage, they decide the moment when they speak,” explains Svobodová, who is responsible for the concept and direction.
The production was chosen by the Italian Foreign Ministry to open the centenary celebrations of the Italian Institute in Prague, alongside the performances of Dante Alighieri and San Carlo. It is presented in collaboration with the Czech Centres, the Fondazione Campania Festival and the NEST theatre from Naples.
Another sound and light installation, called The Barker, draws from the current Czech environment. It will take the audience to the Březina military compound, which is a territory inaccessible to the public. Heavy weapons of the miners go there for the sake of a small beetle. The landscape decomposes, becomes alien. In the darkness of the forest, two foresters try to shed light on the hopeless situation and answer the question of how to revive what is dead.
“I took the theme out of the environment I come from,” reveals Amálie Poledníčková, the author of the installation. As part of the creative process, she returned to the forest several times to record the authentic sounds of the living space together with music composer Stanislav Pecháč. In Kůrovec, rough blows on dry trees or the cracking of branches are therefore audible, which are intertwined with the musical background and spoken word.
A similar theme is also presented in the Czech-German Spielraum Kollektiv’s production of Necessities. Their work is loosely inspired by the Czech cult series The Visitors and focuses on the theme of climate change in an original way. The story takes place in the year 2500 and the research team takes the audience on an adventurous journey back to the year 2022. With a distance of five centuries, they can look at our present and try to answer the questions of what from 2022 will be necessary in ten years and what in five hundred.
Dutch artists will bring another interesting multimedia performance to the Ark. Out of the blue / Zčistajasna is an attempt to capture a moment that is perhaps pivotal in the history of the Earth. That is, how deep can mining companies dig and what we as humanity actually want to get to. The final part of a successful trilogy about mining and quarrying, the previous two parts of which were shown at the Ark, takes the audience into the environment of mining at the bottom of the sea.
The programme of the Accent, which in addition to the performances will also offer debates, an exhibition or the international conference Theatre for Schools, will be closed by the production The End. Its authors and protagonists are a pair of French dancers Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas, winners of the Forced Entertainment award.
“Their dance is a conceptual tool for telling personal stories that intertwine with the fate of our planet. Historical data, scientific data, authentic experiences are mixed with fiction and absurdities, but communicated to the audience with the same seriousness as unquestionable facts. Using subtle humor and the changing dynamics of physical actions on stage, they explore the darker aspects of current issues. At the same time, they make the audience uncomfortable by questioning their roles as performers and the audience as uninvolved observers,” Ondřej Hrab says.
ACCENT FESTIVAL PROGRAMME
16 and 17 November
Perché non io? / Why not me?
Jana Svobodová, NEST Napoli Est Teatro, Campania Teatro Festival, Naples Italy
(in Neapolitan dialect with Czech and English subtitles)
Eight short pieces from the life of Ukrainians for Western audiences
Text: Anastasia Kosodii
Stage concept: Jana Svobodova
In cooperation with Jam Factory Art Center in Lviv
(in English and Ukrainian with Czech translation)
Theater for Schools
Conference What’SAP – Exchange of Social Art Practices
(in English, available upon registration)
residency project, Amálie Poledníčková et al.
(in Czech, in Pragovka space)
25 and 26 November
Out of the Blue / Zčistajasna
Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere / CAMPO, Belgium
(in English with Czech subtitles)
Bert and Nasi, France and UK
(in English with Czech subtitles)