Category: Shakespeare

Shakespeare Among the Suicide Bombers: The Turmoil of Theater in Modern Afghanistan

Shakespeare Among the Suicide Bombers: The Turmoil of Theater in Modern Afghanistan

Shakespeare Among the Suicide Bombers:
The Turmoil of Theater in Modern Afghanistan

Jan Sládek

Jan Sládek

By Haley Ritzert

The exhibit Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in Central Europe is running at the Columbus Museum of Art through May 21. The exhibit features the work of various Czech and Slovak theatre artists and designers, including materials from the Jarka Burian Collection and the Czech Theatre Collection held by The Ohio State University Libraries’ Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.

This post is fifth in a series highlighting designers in the Burian and Czech Theatre collections whose work is featured in the Shakespeare exhibit at CMA. Previous artists include Čestmír Pechr, Ladislav Vychodil, František Tröster, and Marta Roszkopfová.

This post’s featured artist is set and costume designer Jan Sládek. Sládek was born in 1906 in the Czech village of Malý Kunčice. He studied business in nearby Ostrava and, in 1930, began to work as a designer at the National Theatre in Moravian Ostrava. From 1937 to 1944, he collaborated with various theatres in Prague, including the National Theatre. In May 1945, he founded the Realistic Theatre in Prague on Smíchova and was its administrative director after 1950. He continued to design regularly for the Realistic Theatre into the 1970s. The Czechoslovak government honored Sládek for his work in the 1950s and 1960s.

Although he belongs to the same generation as Tröster, Sládek’s work is more decorative and illustrative, and less abstract. This is evident in his 1962 set design for The Merchant of Venice, which is featured in the Shakespeare in Prague exhibit. Sládek’s Merchant of Venice forced perspective design, pictured below, evokes a Venetian canal-street with bridge-like arches above it. The sky and the water are similarly colored and lead to the same central vanishing point, creating the impression of a void in the center of the set.

Sládek's Merchant of Venice

Sládek’s Merchant of Venice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Sládek Shakespeare designs held in the Czech Theatre Collection include costume designs for Desdemona, Cassio, Emilia, and Roderigo from Othello.  

Desdemona

Desdemona

Cassio

Cassio

Emilia

Emilia

Roderigo

Roderigo

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibition is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art; The Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences Initiative; the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague; and the National Museum, Prague.

Works Cited

Jan Sládek, ed. Helena Albertová, Theatre Institute Prague, 1979.

“Shakespeare in Prague.” Columbus Museum of Art. n.d.

Haley Ritzert is a senior majoring in history and German with a minor in Slavic languages and literatures. She is currently working at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and in Special Collections Descriptions and Access as part of a public history internship course.

 

 

The Work of Marta Roszkopfová

“Reality doesn’t interest me enough to copy it:”

The work of Marta Roszkopfová

By Haley Ritzert

The exhibit Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in Central Europe is running at the Columbus Museum of Art through May 21. The exhibit features the work of various Czech and Slovak theatre artists and designers, including materials from the Jarka Burian Collection and the Czech Theatre Collection held by The Ohio State University Libraries’ Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.

This post is fourth in a series highlighting designers in the Burian Collection whose work will be featured in the Shakespeare exhibit at CMA. Previous artists include Čestmír Pechr, Ladislav Vychodil, and František Tröster.

Marta Roszkopfová

Marta Roszkopfová

 

This post’s featured artist is Slovak set and costume designer Marta Roszkopfová. Roszkopfová was born in 1947 in Žilina, Czechoslovakia. She studied in Brno and worked as a scenographer at the Academy of Performing Arts (VŠMU) in Bratislava, where she studied under Ludmila Purkyňova and Ladislav Vychodil.  Jarka Burian notes that she then spent an influential year in Warsaw studying in the studio of Józef Szajna, a close collaborator with Jerzy Grotowsky.  In 1974, Roszkopfová became a resident designer at the State Theatre in Ostrava. Her work has been exhibited in numerous cities abroad, including Lisbon, Moscow, Budapest, Helsinki, Montreal, and twice in Columbus, currently as part of Shakespeare in Prague. In 1984, she received a gold medal in theatre costume design at the 7th International Triennial at Novi Sad. Scenography scholar Helena Albertová described Roszkopfová’s designs as “full of dramatic tension and dynamics,” exhibiting “metaphoric vision and intensive efforts to discover the essence of the play.” Of her own work, Roszkopfová said, “Reality doesn’t interest me enough to copy it. During work on a production, the unique, unrepeatable reality of the play is what counts most.”

While describing her 1988 set design for Romeo and Juliet, which features two large, round, Hoxhaist-style bunkers, Roszkopfová said that she is interested in “the problem of human suffering and maturation in the tolerant, liberal individual. I am interested in what it is that makes us slaves, although we think that we have a lot in our own hands; what makes us vulnerable, although we have the feeling that we are armored.” The bunkers represent the limitations placed on Romeo and Juliet by their parents, Roszkopfová says, and were inspired by news coming out of Gaza at the time. Roszkopfová saw a connection between the story of forbidden love and the setting in “another part of the world that had been sectioned off, where love and mutual affection and respect bloom between individuals of feuding regions, not just feuding families.” The design is reminiscent of a war zone, with trails of red in the black sky evoking both rocket smoke and blood.

Romeo and Juliet 1988 Set Design

Romeo and Juliet 1988 Set Design

Roszkopfová is still active in theatre. During the 2017-2018 season, she is designing costumes for eight productions, including Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) and Jesus Christ Superstar at the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, Czech Republic. She is also designing sets for three of these productions.

Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in Central Europe is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art; The Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences Initiative; the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague; and the National Museum, Prague.

Works Cited

Helena Albertová, biographical sketch of Marta Roszkopfová, circa 1994. Folder 14, box 4, series 1, Jarka Burian Collection, Theatre Research Institute, The Ohio State University.

Jarka Burian, Leading Creators of Twentieth-Century Czech Theatre. London: Routledge, 2002.

Marta Roszkopfová, letter to Jarka Burian, 1994. Folder 14, box 4, series 1, Jarka Burian Collection.

“Marta Roszkopfová, Guest of the Opera.” Czech National Theatre. 2017.

“Marta Roszkopfová.” National Moravian-Silesian Theatre. 2017.

“Shakespeare in Prague.” Columbus Museum of Art. n.d.

Haley Ritzert is a senior majoring in history and German with a minor in Slavic languages and literatures. She is currently working at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and in Special Collections Descriptions and Access as part of a public history internship course.

 

 

THE IDEATIONAL HORIZON: THE WORK OF LADISLAV VYCHODIL

THE IDEATIONAL HORIZON:

THE WORK OF LADISLAV VYCHODIL

By Haley Ritzert

From February 10 to May 21, Columbus Museum of Art will be presenting the exhibit “Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in Central Europe.” The exhibit will feature the work of various Central European theatre artists and designers, including materials from the Jarka Burian Collection and the Czech Theatre Collection held by The Ohio State University Libraries’ Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.

This post is second in a series highlighting designers in the Burian Collection whose work will be featured in the Shakespeare exhibit at CMA.

Ladislav Vychodil

Ladislav Vychodil

 

One of the featured artists is Slovak scenographer Ladislav Vychodil, who worked at the Slovak National Theatre from 1945 until 1999. He also established and served as principal professor of the Department of Scenic Arts at the Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts for over 15 years. His work in Czechoslovakia and abroad brought international attention to what Jarka Burian described as “the individual character of Slovak stage design,” noting that it is conceptually different from Czech scenography. Vychodil was a National Artist of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and in 1980, his designs were the centerpiece of an exhibition celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Slovak National Theatre.

Ladislav Vychodil designs

Ladislav Vychodil Design

 

Vychodil’s set design for the Slovak National Theatre’s 1980 production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Katerina Ismailova (also known as Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District), pictured above, is featured in the Shakespeare in Prague exhibit. The artistic, somewhat abstract design demonstrates several characteristics typical of Vychodil’s work, as described by Vychodil to Jarka Burian: an “ideational horizon,” with the horizon disappearing into red suggestive of both a sunset and spilled blood; an “inner cylinder” with “lines or ribs extending to lines of force, like a magnet, to the floor, creating a basic space,” and a “functional stage.” The swing Ismailova sits on is part of the functional stage, held up by a round, half-cylindrical structure around her.

The Jarka Burian Collection has extensive holdings on Vychodil and his work, with no less than forty-five of his productions represented including notable productions of the works of Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Václav Havel. His Shakespeare designs include The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, Richard III, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet.  The Burian Collection holds several of Vychodil’s drawings for Romeo and Juliet (Den Norske Teatret, Oslo, 1985) which Burian describes as a synthesis of the scenographer’s ideational cyclorama and functional stage.

Romeo and Juliet Design

Romeo and Juliet Design

 

The exhibition is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art; The Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences Initiative; the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague; and the National Museum, Prague.

Works Cited

60th anniversary announcement. Slovak National Theatre. 1980.

Jarka Burian. “Notes on the Slovak Scenographer Ladislav Vychodil.” n.d.

Jarka Burian. “Entry for encyclopedia.” n.d.

Jarka Burian. “Ladislav Vychodil’s Scenography Abroad.” n.d.

“Shakespeare in Prague.” Columbus Museum of Art. n.d.

Ladislav Vychodil, interviewed by Jarka Burian, circa late 1980s.

 

Haley Ritzert is a senior majoring in history and German with a minor in Slavic languages and literatures. She is currently working at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and in Special Collections Descriptions and Access as part of a public history internship course.