Drama The New Stage

The Labor of Life

Chanoch Levin

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Translation: Lenka Bukovská
Stage director: Eduard Kudláč
Sets: Eva Rácová Kudláčová
Costumes: Eva Rácová Kudláčová
Music: Martin Burlas
Dramaturgy: Iva Klestilová

Jona, an ageing man, awakens in the middle of the night up with the bitter feeling that he has wasted his life. He decides to leave his wife Leviva and duly wakes her up to tell her so. They enter into an impassioned dialogue, replete with pleas, lamentations, mutual threats, reproaches and accusations. A dialogue both awful and ridiculous. It is the human soul’s crying over a squandered life.

The playwright and stage director Hanoch Levin (1943-1999) was one of the leading figures of Israeli theatre and public life in general. In the 1960s and 1970s, his provocative political cabarets and comedies aroused enthusiasm but also resulted in huge protests on the part of religious and political conservatives, whereas his mature plays dating from the 1980s and 1990s form the core of the Israeli “classic” repertory. It is thus all the more surprising that Czech theatres have to date not staged a single Levin work, and thus The Labour of Life will be his very first play to be presented in our country. It was written in 1981 and premiered in 1989 at the Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv.

The play affords extraordinary opportunities for three elderly actors. It is a grim, in places bitterly philosophical, contemplation of the futility of all human action and endeavour, as well as the necessity to face this frustration with all possible means. Applying minimal linguistic means, Levin evokes a forcible and poetic atmosphere, and the palpable, physically oppressive feeling of absurdity. Yet the play does not lack humour, albeit of the black and harsh variety. The Czech premiere of Levin’s work promises to be a distinct, thematically and formally unique dramatic experience.

Drama in czech language

Czech premiere: 12 March 2015 at the New Stage

Approximate running time: 1 hour, 5 minutes, no intermission


This production is not performed at the present time.