Our Uppish and Defiant Fellows

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The councillors of Honice are to elect a bellman, the person responsible for security in the village. The task is formidable, with two strong candidates running for office – the veteran soldier Valentin Bláha and the tailor František Fiala. What is more, the mayor, Filip Dubský, and the first councillor, Jakub Bušek, obstinately sit tight, neither of them willing to compromise. The fraught situation is further aggravated by the municipal council receiving an anonymous letter threatening arson. A plethora of human types is presented on the stage – the “important persons” and their wives, old-timers, young lovers, lowlifes, pig-headed dimwits, tenacious truth-seekers and enthusiastic dupes. All of them live their little lives and great dreams, all of them desire, fight and argue, while the Red Rooster hovers above their roofs … Some 135 years after it was written, Our Uppish and Defiant Fellows is still a fascinating Czech play, a play about ourselves across generations and eras, a play in which the contest for the post of bellman becomes a gigantic struggle for truth and honesty.

In 1887, Ladislav Stroupežnický (1850–1892), an ambitious unyielding dramatist with a restless poetic spirit, a brilliant observer of life in the Czech countryside, referred to his new play as a “contemporary comedy”. The premiere of Our Uppish and Defiant Fellows gave rise to uproar and disputes, provoking outrage due to the author’s uncompromising view, yet also admiration for its forcible and non-idealised depiction of life in a Czech village. Stroupežnický’s text would become immortal, and self-conceit and defiance would become symbols of the Czech national identity. The National Theatre has presented a number of adaptations of the play, including highly popular productions by Miroslav Macháček (1979) and, most recently, J. A. Pitínský (2004). Our new staging has been undertaken by Martin Františák, whose continuous work with rural subjects has earned him the reputation of a creator of impressive poetic folk images, as well as a satirist exposing the true reality of life in a Czech village.

Program and cast

Approximate running time: 2 hours 40 minutes, 1 intermission (20 minutes)

Language: In Czech, surtitles in English, German

 

Filip Dubský, farmer, Mayor of Honice - David Matásek

Marie Dubská, wife of Filip - Martina Preissová

Václav, son of Filip and Marie - Šimon Krupa

Petr Dubský, father of Filip, farm keeper -František Němec

Jakub Bušek, farmer, first councillor of Honice - Ondřej Pavelka

Františka Bušková, wife of Jakub - Taťjana Medvecká

Verunka, daughter of Jakub and Františka - Marie Poulová

Valentin Bláha, military veteran - Radúz Mácha

Josef Habršperk, cobbler - Ondřej Malý

František Fiala, tailor - Igor Orozovič

Terezka, wife of František - Magdaléna Borová

Kristyna, daughter of František and Terezka - Eliška Friedrichová

Matěj Šumbal, farmer, member of the municipal committee - Filip Kaňkovský

Marie, wife of Matěj - Lucie Polišenská

Pavel Kožený, farmer, member of the municipal committee - Vladislav Beneš

Kašpar Šmejkal, farmer, member of the municipal committee - Marek Daniel

Karel Kudrlička, teacher in Radotice, scrivener of Honice - Matyáš Řezníček

Marek Ehrmann, inn owner in Honice - Csongor Kassai

Markýtka Nedochodilová, travelling saleswoman, trading in wooden utensils - Pavla Beretová

Filip Fiala - Josef Bánovec

Policeman - Martin Veliký

Prague National Theatre

The National Theatre today

 

The historical building of the National Theatre, constructed in 1883, is generally considered the prime stage in the CzechRepublic. It is the flagship of the National Theatre institution, today amounting to five buildings and encompassing four companies. You can see there Opera, Drama and Ballet performances.

 

Idea of building a stately theatre for the Czech nation

 

The National Theatre is the embodiment of the will of the Czech nation for a national identity and independence. Collections of money among the broad mass of the people facilitated its construction and hence the ceremonial laying of its foundation stone on 16 May 1868 was tantamount a nationwide political manifestation.

 

The idea of building a stately edifice to serve as a theatre was first mooted in the autumn of 1844 at meetings of patriots in Prague. It began to materialise through a request for “the privilege of constructing, furnishing, maintaining and managing” an independent Czech theatre, which was submitted to the Provincial Committee of the Czech Assembly by František Palacký on 29 January 1845. The privilege was granted in April 1845. Yet it was not until six years later – in April 1851 – that the Society for the Establishment of a Czech National Theatre in Prague (founded in the meantime) made its first public appeal to start collections. A year later the proceeds of the first collections allowed for the purchase of land belonging to a former salt works with the area of less than 28 acres, which predetermined the magnificent location of the theatre on the bank of the river Vltava facing the panorama of Prague Castle, yet at the same time the cramped area and trapezoidal shape posed challenging problems for the building’s designers.
 

By car

To the centre (OldTown), approach on Masarykovo nábřeží (Masaryk embankment) in the direction from the Dancing House, at the crossroads in front of the National Theatre turn right to Divadelní street and then right again to Ostrovní street to the National Theatre car park. Parking costs 50 CZK/h.

 

By tram

By daytime trams Nos. 6, 9, 18 and 22 and night trams Nos. 53, 57, 58, 59 to the stop “Národní divadlo” – in front of the NT historical building; by daytime tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”.

 

By metro

To the station “Můstek”, line B (yellow), and then by foot on Národní street; or to the station “Karlovo náměstí” and then two stops by tram No. 6, 18 or 22 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. To the station “Staroměstská”, line A (green), and then two stops by tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. 

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