JANA Z PARKU / JOAN OF THE PARK

David Drábek

Cast: 4 women, 11 men

Alfréd Radok Award for the best original play of 1995

 

The park is a jungle in the middle of the city, a place with a different morality from the “normal” one, a free island, an alternative to life according to a timetable. This is where people meet who have problems with the world outside: the hippie Hash, a man posing as a blue pug-dog, a timid school-leaver, an old actor, tramps and bankrupts and the village girl Joan. Like Joan of Arc she hears Voices who summon her to a journey. Her calling in the post-modern world of confused values is no longer an unambiguous action but a simple challenge: “Try to be yourself.” In this she resembles the other characters all of whom want to solve the basic question: “What to do and who to be?” The play reflects the festering atmosphere of the beginnings of the 1990s and the transformation of the totalitarian regime when the previous structures relaxed and people thrown into freedom struggled with searching for their place in the new reality. Obviously the author could not, in 1994 when he wrote the play, offer the audience an easy solution; his characters were those who had failed in life, whilst on the other hand Joan resists the allure of the evil spirit Uchuchulo who offers her a standardised conformist idea of a contented life in material bliss. Drábek’s play is witty, deft, rich in an unleashed visual quality when the inner world of the characters materialises on stage, even linguistic games with absurd consistency illustrating the ridiculousness of the figures dressed up in new social roles; eg the “black sheriff” (security guard) wears a black mask and furthermore carries the typical gear of a black rapper over his shoulder – a giant tape-recorder.


Like most original plays by young authors, Joan of the Park is a play of fantasy, dream and the magic of the word. (Jakub Škorpil: Jana, Uchuchul a ti druzí v parku, Telegraf, 19.10.1995)


Joan of the Park is the author’s continuation of a provocative dialogue with the world, in which a bizarre vision of the apocalypse is substituted by a grotesque replica of contemporary reality. A feeling of threat and a flight into “another” world are the starting points of action set in a park amongst skyscrapers. In this “oasis” in the middle of commerce, banal advertisements and rubbish, a group of dubious individuals meet the village girl Joan. (Taťána Lazorčáková: Jana z generačního parku, Lidové noviny, 31.5.1995)

  The play is available in Czech original.


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