Friday, March 7, 2014

Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig

by Drew Martin
I just saw a live production of Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig at the 3LD Art + Technology Center, which is a cool theater space nestled in a nondescript parking garage in the shadow of the ground zero construction site in Lower Manhattan. It is weird to see a production about Czechs by non-Czechs, which is the same sensation I had when I watched The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Czechoslovakia. The audience I was with at that time in 1992 was primarily Czech but the lead roles of the Czech characters are played by Daniel Day-Lewis (British), Juliette Binoche (French), and Lena Olin (Swedish). Tonight's experience was a little more authentic because my friend and I started in a beer garden around the corner and then made our way to this play, which had a lively Bohemian pre-show, and was followed by a post-show of the cast members singing songs by The Velvet Underground - the namesake for the Velvet Revolution that Havel took all the way to his three-term presidency. The Pig is Havel's final work, which was co-authored by Vladimír Morávek. It started with a short dialogue from 1987 about a true story of Havel’s efforts to host a pig roast for his friends. Morávek added sections from one of the most beloved Czech works, The Bartered Bride, and what I saw tonight was something of a CzechoAmerican mashup, which did not dilute the absurdity of the search for a pig in a backward village and this comical tale's criticism of the communist regime.