In 1984, Jan Burian completed his studies of stage direction at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. In his final year, he worked as a director at the Evening Brno Theatre of Satire. His first engagement was at the Oldřich Stibor Theatre in Olomouc. In 1986, he served as a guest stage director in Plzeň, where in the next year he was engaged. Until 1989, when he assumed the post of Artistic Director of the Plzeň drama company, he staged a number of remarkable productions, including of Mikhail Bulgakov’s play Adam and Eve, Karel Steigerwald’s The Tartar Fair and, in Czechoslovak premiere, Alexander Kazantsev’s Eve’s Dreams. In 1990, he staged the Czechoslovak premiere of Václav Havel’s play Temptation. From 1991 to 1995, he worked at the Vinohrady Theatre in Prague.
Between May 1995 and 2013, he served as the Director of the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Plzeň, whose repertoire includes drama, opera, ballet, musical and operetta shows. The productions he staged during his tenure there encompassed a wide spectrum of genres, ranging from classical titles (Shakespeare, Lorca, Miller, O’Neill) to contemporary Czech and international drama. While in Plzeň, he prepared the world premiere of Pavel Kohout’s plays The Zeros and Arthur’s Bolero, the former of which he went on to stage in 2002 at the Moscow Art Theatre (MKHAT), upon the invitation of its Artistic Director, Oleg Tabakov, and in so doing became the first Czech director to have worked for this world-renowned theatre. During his time in Plzeň, he also staged productions of Dvořák’s Rusalka, Bizet’s Carmen, Novák’s Lantern, Verdi’s Il trovatore, Janáček’s Jenůfa and Puccini’s Tosca.
Since 1990, Burian has taught stage direction at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where in 1992 he was appointed head of the Drama Department. In 2015, he was named Professor.
Furthermore, Jan Burian is the director of the Theatre International Festival in Plzeň, the major event of its kind in the Czech Republic. He was the Vice-President of the Czech Centre of the ITI/UNESCO and the Vice-President of the Union of Employer Associations. He is a member of the Association of Professional Theatres of the Czech Republic, and recently was elected the Treasurer of Opera Europa. He represents Czech professional theatres at negotiations on both the national and European level. His managerial work has been praised within the Czech and international context. Jan Burian also played a major role in getting a new theatre constructed in Plzeň. Since 2013, he has served as the General Director of the National Theatre in Prague.