As though they pulled you along asphalt with your face down and you have totally lost all your regular features…
Vladimir Bukovsky, To Build a Castle, 1978
ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE
On 25th August 1968 a slight woman is coming to Red Square in Moscow. She is pushing a pram with her three-month-old son. There is a hand-written banner under the baby blanket. It says For Your Freedom and Ours. The woman is sitting down on the pavement together with seven other people. They are spreading their banners just when the clock at Spassky Tower is striking noon.
The performance called Noon began its preparation in 2017. Its first night performances are planned 17th March at Plum Yard in Malovice, Prague first night perfromances on 22nd and 23rd March 2018 in La Fabrika.
The performance is based on the book of the same name by Natalya Gorbanevskaya, who was one of these “Brave eight”. Together with Konstantin Babicky, a linguist, Vadim Delon, a poet, Vladimir Dremlyuga, a worker, Viktor Fainberg, a specialist in English philology, Pavel Litvinov, a physicist, Larisa Bogoraz, a linguist, and Tatyana Baeva, a student, she demonstrated peacefully on the Red Square against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Treaty armies. The demonstration was dispersed in a few minutes by undercover agents of the State Security Service and its participants were arrested. After that they were questioned, tried, imprisoned, sent to exile, labour camps or psychiatric prison-hospitals.
Natalya Gorbanevskaya was arrested a year later due to her little son. Before it happened in December 1969, she regularly informed foreign mass media about the trial with her colleagues and friends and she wrote a book called Noon. The case became known all over the world after the book was published in western countries. Natalya Gorbanevskaya was sent to a mental hospital, like many other Soviet dissidents of that time (e.g. Viktor Fainberg, Vladimir Bukovsky). She was treated for alleged schizophrenia with a specific diagnosis of Brezhnev’s regime called “heresy of reformism”. When she was released, she emigrated to Paris in 1975, where she lived until her death in 2013.
The theatre performance prepared by Continuo Theatre is based on her life and poetry. It links together a documentary theatre narration of the events which followed the demonstration on 25th August 1968 and a visual arts and physical theatre full of insistent scenes inspired by the poetry of Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Vadim Delon and other Soviet dissident poets from the 1960s and 1970s. The two levels, historical and personal, are reflected in the performance. The historical and political context is shown in stark, nearly journalistic, stylization while the personal story of the main characters, their questions, doubts and experiences are performed with over realistic imagery. They are based on poetry by Natalya Gorbanevskaya and memories and powerful evidence of political prisoners about their stay in infamous Soviet psychiatric prison hospitals. Visual art conception is made by Pavel and Helena Štouračs, music accompaniment is provided by a string quartet whose impressive compositions have been written by Elia Moretti, a long-term Continuo collaborator.
An impulse for dealing with this topic originated in August 2013 when about ten people were held by security services in Red Square in Moscow on 25th August 2013 because they came there to recall the protest against the occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968.
Pavel Štourač, an artistic director of Continuo Theatre, stood up for those unlawfully detained in public, he addressed some of them including Natalya Gorbanevskaya and initiated a petition For Your Freedom and Ours, which was sent to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Czech Republic.
Before the authors started to prepare the performance, they did an extensive research, they studied historical documents and they consulted both Czech and foreign historians as well as living participants of the demonstration, their children and other Soviet dissidents of that time.
Directed by: PAVEL ŠTOURAČ
Concept: DIVADLO CONTINUO
Dramaturgy: DIVADLO CONTINUO, MAREK TUROŠÍK
Stage design: HELENA ŠTOURAČOVÁ, PAVEL ŠTOURAČ
Music: ELIA MORETTI a kol.
Light design: JAN HUGO HEJZLAR
Technical collaboration: MARTIN HAMOUZ
Cast: KATEŘINA ŠOBÁŇOVÁ, SARA BOCCHINI, LUDMILA JEŠUTOVÁ,
SEAN HENDERSON, FELIX BAUMANN, PAVEL ŠTOURAČ,
MARKÉTA LÁBUSOVÁ (violin, voice) JOHN – ROBIN BOLD (guitars, electronics)
PETR TICHÝ (double bass), URBAN MEGUŠAR (violoncello)
Photo documentation: ADÉLA VOSIČKOVÁ, KAREL FOŘT,
Video documentation: ONDŘEJ KYMLA, Grafic design: JAKUB ŠTOURAČ,
Production: MARKÉTA KREJČOVÁ, KRISTÝNA ŘEPOVÁ, ZUZANA BEDNARČIKOVÁ, ART PROMETHEUS
CONTRIBUTORS TO THE PERFORMANCE
Viktor Fainberg, one of eight demonstrators on Red Square on 25th August. After he was arrested, he was forcibly imprisoned for five years in mental hospitals. In 1974 he emigrated via Israel to Great Britain, where he founded an organisation CAPA – Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuses for political purposes. He has been living in France since 1978 and he has become involved in observing human rights all over the world.
Jaroslav Gorbanevsky, a graphic artist and teacher, the older son of Natalya Gorbanevskaya. He has been living in Paris since his mother emigrated from the Soviet Union with him and his younger brother in 1975.
Alexander Daniel, son of Larisa Bogorazova
Pavel Martchenko, son of Larisa Bogorazova
Olga Prokhorova Ioffe, russian dissident
Adam Hradílek, a historian and author of many professional publications. He works as the head of a group in the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. He wrote the afterword to the Czech edition of the book Noon by Natalya Gorbanevskaya and he was an editor of the book For Your Freedom and Ours, which deals with the demonstration against the occupation of Czechoslovakia in Red Square in 1968.
Michaela Stoilová, a translator from Russian and English. She organises the Czech part of the project The Last Address in the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. She is a co-author of the book For Your Freedom and Ours. She was a friend of Natalya Bogorazova, who was one of the eight demonstrators against the occupation of Czechoslovakia on 25th August 1968 in Red Square.
Milan Dvořák, an interpreter and translator from Russian and English. He translated the book Noon by Natalya Gorbanevskaya into Czech. In addition, he has translated works by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Boris Pasternak, Michail Bulgakov, Bulat Okudzhava, Vladimir Vysotsky.
Libor Dvořák, a translator, journalist, editor and commentator of the Czech Radio. He specializes in the territory of Russia and the former Soviet Union.
Jana Klusáková, a radio and television presenter, journalist and translator. When she was pregnant, she sneaked the book Noon from the Soviet Union through Czechoslovakia to Germany, where it was published.
The performance is accompanied by a thematic installation.
MOTTO: Time has finally run out for communism. But its concrete edifice has not yet crumbled. And we must take care not to be crushed beneath its rubble instead of gaining liberty. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Rebuilding Russia
Installation is opened always 1 hour before the start of the performance and after the end of the production.
concept and design: Zuzana Bednarčiková, Helena Štouračová, Martin Hamouz
dramaturgy: Marek Turošík, Helena Štouračová
dramaturgical consultations: Adam Hradilek
technical ingeneering and technology: Martin Hamouz, Viliam Fedorko
cooperation: Jiří Šmirk, Jan Hugo Hejzlar
production: Zuzana Bednarčiková