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David Drábek

Playwright, stage director and dramaturge David Drábek is the most distinctive member of the generation of theatricians who have emerged on the Czech drama scene after the year 1989. He read cinematic art and theatre studies at the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University in Olomouc (graduating in 1995), whereupon he took up a post as dramaturge at the Moravian Theatre in Olomouc (1996–2000). However, he himself believes to have obtained the rudiments of his “practical training” during his work with the Flaming Giraffe Studio in Olomouc, a company he formed together with Darek Král and of which he was the artistic director all through the Studio‘s existence. It was there that he developed his unorthodox stage concepts with a team of actors who felt alike and belonged in the same age group (including notably Jana Plíhalová, Dita Vojnarová, Filip Čapka, Adrian Jastraban, Pavol Juřica, Dušan Urban, and Rudolf Mahela). On the stage of this quintessentially generational theatre, Drábek presented his first plays: Flaming Giraffes (with which Drábek and Král opened the theatre in 1993), and Jane from the Park which he himself staged in the same year. Starting with the collectively authored slapstick comedy Mother Mouse Cooked Porridge (1996), and with the play A Cosmic Breakfast, or Nebřenský (1997), Drábek ‘s stage frescoes assumed a characteristic individual profile in terms of genre and message. The sharp edge and experimentally oriented grotesqueness of his artistic reflection eventually climaxed in the mock-heroic farce Swedish Table (1999), and in the satirical cabaret plays The Skeleton in Nylon Stockings (1999) andThe Skeleton: Resurrection (2003). Drábek himself stage-directed all of these plays, establishing himself as “author-director.” At the peak of his creative powers though, he was forced to disband the Studio due to lack of funding. By then, he had managed to establish himself in the world of theatre as both a playwright and a stage director, working for the Northern Moravia Theatre in Šumperk, the Western Bohemia Theatre in Cheb, the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, and elsewhere. From 2005–2007, he was active as stage director at the Theatre Minor in Prague, where he mounted his plays Snow White: A New Generation (2006), and The Planet of Apes, or the Kaplan Siblings among the Hairy Ones (2006). Simultaneously, he started collaboration with Prague‘s Small Vinohrady Theatre. There, he was part of a team authoring a series of suggestive stage probes into the life of a generation, The Little Girl with Brain (2005); Berta (From Dusk to Dawn) (2008), and the comedy Animals on Toast (2011). Meanwhile, Drábek had also become firmly entrenched at the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové, with a production of his so far most widely staged play, Sync Swimmers, mounted there in 2005 by Vladimír Morávek, followed by his own staging of Karel Čapek‘s play R.U.R. (2005), and above all, his “consumerist” updating of Macbeth (2007). In the following year, the critics ‘ attention was drawn to his production of Čapek‘s The Makropulos Affair at the Vinohrady Theatre in Prague, and by his innovative Loudmouths 2008 at the National Theatre in Brno. In 2009, Drábek became artistic director and stage director at the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové, debuting with a staging of the original musical, Lizards, which earned him an instant success with the local audience cultivated by Vladimír Morávek‘s productions, and still in the same year offering another proof of his talent as playwright and stage director in the production of his own play The Brothers Mašín Square. Still at Hradec Králové, he engaged in further exploits in his favourite field of collective authorship, in the horror-show cabaret set in the world of the media, The Night of the Zombies in the television country-music show of Beverly Rodriguez (2010), followed by a parody entitled Sherlock Holmes: The Murders of the Bearded Women (2010), and the romantic comedy Chocolate Guzzlers (2011). Drábek‘s plays have since come to attract an increasing number of theatre companies. Among others, Vladimír Morávek mounted, at the Goose on a String theatre in Brno, a montage of scenes from Drábek‘s plays called The Czech Sea (2009); a part of his drama Houses of Ill Repute was incorporated into the production entitled Hard/Soft, staged by Jan Frič at the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava in 2010; his one-acter Fluff was taken in by the Centre of Contemporary Drama and the Theatre on the Ballustrade in Prague for their unique project Sky Closed, whose world premiere took place at Prague Airport in September 2010. Internationally, Drábek has scored particular success with Sync Swimmers, which was aired as a radio play by the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg in Germany in 2007, and received theatre productions in the Polish cities of Kalisz and Zielona Góra in 2008 and 2009, and in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 2010. Drábek‘s plays have also regularly appeared on Czech Radio: Swedish Table in 2004, Houses of Ill Repute in 2007 (winning the 2008 Prix Bohemia Radio award), andThe Shot in 2011. David Drábek received several Alfred Radok Awards for his exploits in drama (in 1994 for Jane from the Park; 2003 for Sync Swimmers, which also earned him the Czech Play of the Year award in 2005; in 2009 for The Brothers Mašín Square, which also became the 2009 Czech Play of the Year; and in 2011, for Chocolate Guzzlers. On his home stage at the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové, David Drábek mounted a new production of Beaumarchais‘ The Marriage of Figaro in December 2011, and in March 2012, he staged Tchekhov‘s The Seagull at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava.


Update: September 2012 

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