- DIRECTOR: Becka McFadden
- ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: Cassandra Fumi
- TRANSLATED by: Eva Daníčkova
- CAST: Lara Parmiani, Mark Ota, Daiva Domynika. Special guest Arnost Goldflam.
At a very complex time in the UK, it’s more important than ever for us to keep telling European stories. Our 2016-2017 production, part of LegalAliens’ “Translating Europe” series, is the English première of Poker Face, by Petr Kolečko. Watch a photo trailer
THE STORY: Prague, 2011. Champion poker player Jana lives in a luxury apartment, despised by her idealistic daugher Pavlína. But in 1989, had Jana joined the Velvet Revolution with passion, ending up in a raucous late night meeting with leading dissidents. On the eve of Václav Havel’s funeral, memories are raw and intensified by the presence of Pavlína’s politically ambitious boyfriend Viktor. What turned an idealist into a cynic? Might Pavlína be Havel’s daughter? Poker Face alternates drama with dark comedy to tell the story of three generations against the backdrop of radical change in Central Europe.
WHY POKER FACE: Generational conflict over radical political and economic change in a European country… Sound familiar? At a time when it’s all too easy to disengage from the world around us, Poker Face invites us to consider the personal impact of major historical events, how the stuff of headlines trickles down to shape our views, broaden or limit our opportunities and inflect the ways in which we relate to one another. Together these considerations point to bigger questions concerning the relationship between individual and state, the governing and the governed. Kolečko personalises this relationship utterly. In Poker Face, Václav Havel isn’t just a past president – a generational icon – but also a past lover, and, therefore, an icon rendered human, imperfect, ambiguous, disappointing, even, despite his undeniable achievements.
OUR SHOW: Much like the real Havel, Poker Face delights in language. At the intersection of the political and the personal, of reality and aspiration, Poker Face plays with dialects. The Czech phrase profesionální deformace speaks to the ways in which our working lives penetrate everything we say and do. For Jana, then, the world is understood in terms of poker, while for Viktor, it exists to be essentialised into Twitter-ready soundbites. Meanwhile, between those two poles, in an atmosphere echoing with the utterances of those who have left, Pavlína searches for her voice. Our translation strives to recreate in English all the subtleties of the original, however the original Czech isn’t banned from the show, it comes back in the short flashbacks featuring Jana’s father, Franta, who only appears in video, the embodiment of the past, of the old Czechoslovakian identity, of a lost world. We also hear Czech spoken in the newsreels playing in the background whilst our characters talk, eat, have sex and fight – literally – for their lives.
A place where the personal and political are so deeply enmeshed that to separate them seems impossible.
A play set in Prague, in 2011. A play for Britain and Europe post 2016? We certainly think so.
Poker Face premiered at the KINGS HEAD THEATRE, London, in October 2016. Currently on tour with 2017 dates including Voila! Europe and Milan’s PACTA
To BOOK Poker Face please contact email@example.com and ask for our info pack
Please click on the links to read what critics and bloggers had to say:
THE AUTHOR: Petr Kolečko is one of the most successful Czech screenwriters and playwrights of his generation. By the age of 22 he had his first play, Britney Goes to Heaven, produced at the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, translated into English and Polish, and presented as a staged reading at the Immigrants’ Theatre Project in New York. In 2008, he took part in the Royal Court’s international playwrights’ residence. He had a particularly successful seven-year stint as the artistic director of Prague’s A Studio Rubín, devoted entirely to contemporary Czech theatre. His plays have been staged by major theatres in the Czech Republic, and translated into English, French, Spanish, German, Romanian, Polish and Slovak. For TV, he wrote the critically-acclaimed sitcom The Fourth Star (Čtvrtá hvězda). Two of his plays, Icing (Zakázané uvolnění) and Fifty (Padesátka) have been adapted as feature films.
GENERATION ICONS: Poker Face was written in 2012 as part of Generation Icons, a European project exploring cultural identity and generational change. The main coordinator was Divadlo LETÍ, in Prague, and the co-organizers were GUnaGU Theatre, Bratislava, Slovakia Wiener Worstaetten, Vienna, Austria, the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague, Czech Republic and the HaDivadlo Theatre Brno, Czech Republic. The project was based on the principle of blending three countries, three generations of authors, three original plays, three residences of directors for a direct confrontation between individual nationalities, generations and cultural contexts.
The texts generated during the process, although different in form (ranging from the more traditional dramatic form to postdramatic theatre), all reflected the current social-political and economic environment. Poker Face and the Slovak Kill Hill ™, by Villam Klimáček were about money, games (virtual reality for Klimáček and poker for Kolečko) and the disillusionment which ensued the arrival of the capitalism in Eastern Europe. iPlay by Bernard Studler was a collage where poetry, humour, and politics blended.
LegalAliens became involved in Generation Icons in 2013 when it was asked by Divadlo LETÍ to be their UK partner, and we presented staged readings of the three plays at RADA Studios.