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‘Havel: The Passion of Thought’
by ROBERT MASSIMI 16 hours ago in ART
Havel: The Passion of Thought consisted of five short plays; all dealing with communism and the freedoms that people desire. All five are pithy and good, some being better than others.
Prior to the show we see TV viewings of Secretary of State Madeline Albright and an interview with Vaclav Havel who wrote three of the shorts. Havel was a writer before becoming the President of Czechoslovakia. He led the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989, and was jailed many times for his writings and political beliefs.
In its fifteenth year, PTP (Potomac Theater Project) has put on plays that deal with the freedom of expression, the freedom of speech, and people everywhere yearning to be free from oppression from its government.
The 80s saw many communist countries fall due to the pressures of their people. Czechoslovakia was one of them, as were Poland and Russia. Havel went on to lead his country even when part of it split and became Slovakia. Havel, like leck Valencia, was considered to be both honest and a fair leader, and as such, was loved by many.
The first short was Pinter’s “New World Order.” It deals with a prisoner being interrogated by two authoritative figures. The funniest of all the shorts, we witness two unorthodox guards questioning the prisoner.
Havel’s “The Interview” has some humor as well. Set in a brewery, Ferdinand is questioned by the head brew master about the company he keeps. He is a writer who cannot find work other than the brewery. He is content with his position, and his place in life, and he will not change his lifestyle for anyone or anything.
The third short is “The Apartment,” my least favorite. I found the direction flawed in this short. It deals with a married couple telling Ferdinand what’s wrong with him, his wife, and his life in general. Jokes fell flat, and the plot line was all over the place. Hard to digest what the writer was portraying here.
The forth short was the best one, it was well-directed, and the acting and actors worked well together. A poignant piece about what sacrifices people make for their beliefs. The audience really received a nose wind in this short. The direction brought forth the tension between the two actors nicely.
“The Catastrophe” was an absurdist piece. Presumably on a person being molded to the authority’s liking. A very short piece, but it had a great staging, and a very gothic feel to it. Shirt, but with a lot of impact to it, Samuel Beckett’s piece was a nice conclusion to a very entertaining show.
In all five shorts, David Barlow was outstanding in the different roles that he played. His stage presence in the words and expression were thought-provoking. Barlow’s calm demeanor gave a nuance to the mission he was on, never losing his cool, always in control. Michael Laurence was excellent as the interrogator and the Brewmaster. Danielle Skraastad was very effective in her role as Stanekova in “Protest.”
The staging at The Atlantic Theater was well done. The costumes had a lasting effect on the body of work of these five shorts. Three great writers in one show is always a treat, and PTP did not disappoint in the way they put the shorts on. This show runs till August fourth and is one not to be missed. The show’s underlying message is one of peoples’ freedoms. Many people throughout history have been jailed, or worse, in creating an environment where there is a push for freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the right to live one’s life the way they see fit too.
PTP put forth three effective writers all with a strong message. Havel, a man jailed for his writings, went on to be Czechoslovakia’s president. Havel never abused his power, he did the opposite, he welcomed new thought and respected the freedoms of his people. In his death, hundreds of thousands of people showed up to honor a great man with steadfast beliefs. The fall of the Eastern block countries can be dedicated to men like Havel. Great men who sacrificed much for the freedom of not only them, but of their countries’ people.
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