VÃ¡clav Havel is well known for having been a political dissident, but he was also a well-regarded playwright in his time. His writings were banned by the Communists in the â€™70s and he became leader of the revolution that drove them out of power. In 1993, he was elected president of the newly independent Czech Republic.
To honor the man, his writings and all he has done for the Czech Republic, theÂ Mutual Inspirations Festival is focusing on Havel in a month-long celebration through theatrical performances, film screenings, concerts, lectures, and exhibitions.
The Mutual Inspirations Festival was created in 2009 by the Embassy of the Czech Republic, focusing on the mutual inspirations between Czech and American cultures and featuring each year an extraordinary Czech personality who has greatly influenced and inspired others through his or her work. Past honorees have been Garrigue Masaryk, AntonÃn DvorÃ¡k and MiloÅ¡ Forman.
The theater offerings kick off at the Ambassador Theater at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 with the Spitfire Companyâ€™s preview ofAntiwords, a story that draws inspiration from the works of Havel, especiallyÂ Audience. The play is directed byÂ Petr Bohac and performed by prominent Czech physical theater actresses Mirenka CechovÃ¡ and JindriÅ¡ka KrivÃ¡nkovÃ¡, and appears at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Hanna Bondarewska, founder and artistic director of Ambassador Theater, was a great admirer of Havel, and in December of 2011 was this close to contacting him about working with the theater.
â€œI had been thinking about Havel since I started a theater and I was thinking about getting in touch with him to invite him on our Honorary Board. I remember when I was traveling to Poland for Christmas, I already planned my visit to Czech Republic to get in touch with him and while on the plane I learned that Vatslav Â Havel had passed away,â€ Bondarewska says. â€œI was devastated since I admired him so much as a statesman and writer and humanitarian.
I had books with the translations of his plays and I was already thinking aboutÂ Audience andÂ Protest.â€
It was Gail Humphries Mardirosian, chair of the department of performing arts atÂ American University, who was the main force behind the Mutual Inspiration performance, connecting Bondarewska to the Czech Embassy and Czech performers.
â€œGail told me about the festival and immediately introduced me to wonderful woman, Ms. Barbara Karpetova from the Czech Embassy. Then I met Mirenka and thatâ€™s how our adventure with Havel began.â€ …to Read more