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Prague

CTE photo
John Krizanc

Drama in two acts by John Krizanc premiered at Tarragon Theatre, November 1984, directed by Richard Rose, set designed by Dorian Clark, costumes by John Pennoyer, lighting by Steven Hawkins, it featured Richard McMillan, Tanja Jacobs, Bruce Vavrina, Nancy Beatty, Antony Parr, Rod Beattie, John Evans and Deborah Kipp. It was subsequently mounted at Centaur Theatre in January, 1986. It won the Governor Generalís Award and the Chalmers Award.

Prague is a miraculously ingenious piece, similar to the one-act plays of Vaclav Havel, about a theatre mounting a "dangerous" work in Prague, 1983. One character puts the conundrum of theatre in communist countries into focus: "When I started, a play was a play. And I loved this company because it was always all over the map; we'd do classics, clown shows, kiddie shows...Whatever...the audience loved us. But no one sees anything anymore...they're all too busy looking for the hidden meaning we're trying to sneak past the censors. They don't care what play they're watching...I always used to feel like I was a child playing up here...and now I feel old and I don't want to play anymore."

What follows is a story of betrayal and intrigue, of artists and apparatchiki, but primarily a story of how people cope within (and without) a system. It comes complete with gallows humour: "...this actor suddenly stepped out of character and yelled out to the audience 'I'm not a landowner; I'm an actor and I haven't eaten in three days. And you people sit there on your fat asses while others are starving!' After the show, the inspector of police went to the dressing room and-personally-shot the actor. Dead. And my friend said to me, 'That policeman would have made a good director.'" There are also echoes of Krizanc's previous concerns in his play, Tamara.

Brilliant.

Readings: John Krizanc. Prague. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 1988. John Krizanc. Tamara. Toronto: Stoddart, 1989.

Commentary by Gaetan Charlebois

Last updated 2020-07-17