PÍSEK / THE SAND
Cast: 2 women, 4 men, extras
Second prize in the Alfréd Radok Foundation’s Award for best Czech play 2002.
The play is almost contemporary with real time (February 2002). The action is localised in the paradise of tourism: the Canary Isles. The comfortable atmosphere of the community of holiday-makers of difference nationalities changes, with the help of the local workforce of light women and drug dealers, into a horror with a political background to the prehistory of the characters. It is founded on the author’s critical attitude towards the consumer society with its easy availability of any kind of experience for the appropriate financial remuneration. The blazing sun mobilises the stereotype of a tired Czech husband to a fatal quarrel. Jaruš dies of heatstroke with the assistance of the Serbian war criminal Ratko Gorovič, and Richard too gets a going-over for his deformed idea of freedom after he falls into the clutches of the drug mafia and prostitutes. The bored and wealthy Claudia does not in any way mask the aim of her travelling, but sex tourism gets out of hand for the experienced American fine lady. Her relationship with the young Marco, who she thinks is an “ordinary” gigolo when he is really Gorovič’s son, turns complicated. Marco – suffering an inner pain manifested externally by his physical collapse – is some sort of surviving spirit-witness of the suffering of Ratko’s victims. The collapse of the idyll and the time levels, and the culminating pain of characters driven to meaningless violence, is expressed in Marco’s line: “Here the story begins to crumble like sand.” Bullets and lines shower down like grains of sand. “The end of tragedy” as the subtitle of the play says, naturally bears instruction in a Post-Modern spirit: if the war-seasoned Ratko Gorovič blames the superficial tourists for their inability to understand real tragedy, then their typical (to him) representative Claudia returns the blame in the last scene of the play. In some sort of deadly hallucination she introduces the cruel old man as the main star of her strange show. In the unending seconds of his death, Gorovič and his life story pass through total banality – and the wheels of the leisure industry merrily roll on.
The complex story … is a harsh picture of the conscience of a war criminal whose acts do not disappear from the world, but are as it were made constantly present through later generations. (Lukáš Vondráček: V Činoherním studiu se drhne krev pískem, Hospodářské noviny, 24.2.2004)
The mission of Bambušek’s truly risky travel agency is not to export tourists seeking after sensations, but rather to force them directly, physically. (Martin Pšenička: Vinen, tedy jsem aneb Není dovolená jako dovolená, Divadelní noviny, 13.4.2004)
The play is available also in English, Russian and Macedonian translation.