The Dramatic Company of the Brno National Theatre – also known as The Mahen Dramatic Theatre Company according to its first dramaturge, renowned Czech writer Jiří Mahen (1882–1939) – operates on two main stages: the Mahen Theatre and the Reduta Theatre. Their artistic director Milan Šotek, who had previously worked as a dramaturge for large drama theatre companies, including the Prague National Theatre, has been shaping the Brno drama company since January 2019. The alpha and the omega of Šotek’s dramaturgic approach is his relationship with acting and drama as well as his relationship with tradition.
The ambition to make the Mahen Dramatic Theatre Company one of the most respected ensembles in Czechia led us to reintroduce, starting from the season 2019/2020, the Chief Director position with the appointment of Štěpán Pácl, Šotek’s contemporary. In his former work, mainly focused on Czech drama, Pácl had been exploring the potentialities of the word, caring about what can most appropriately be called poetics, i.e. a sensibility for other qualities of language and reality than the merely semantic and utilitarian.
In its striving to ‘think through dramatic theatre’, or to understand more about man and the world by means of performance, the Mahen Dramatic Theatre Company has to base itself on acting. And reciprocally: in such a theatre, acting cannot do without drama because the actor must have ‘roles to enact’.
Starting with the 2019/2020 season, we invite cooperation from those directors whose invention emphasises actors’ acting and is deeply rooted in drama (not in drama as ‘literature’ but in dramatic acting which – naturally and inevitably – involves speaking). Our conviction, which we share with these artists, is that ‘doing grand dramatic theatre today has a meaning’.
The present-day staging style of the Mahen Dramatic Theatre Company has been developed in four major dramaturgical fields.
1) Czech plays – our aim is to broaden the existing canon of Czech drama beyond the framework of the most popular classics by introducing less frequently staged plays such as Karel Steigerwald’s Old Dances, Josef Topol’s Wandering of Souls, Milan Kundera’s The Owners of the Keys, etc.;
2) Central-European drama which is represented by Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom, Ödön von Horváth’s Nobody, Johann Nepomuk Nestroy’s Railway Marriages… ;
3) Czech premieres of recent plays by internationally renowned playwrights: Marius von Mayenburg’s Mars, Tracy Letts’ The Minutes, Martin McDonagh’s A Very Very Very Dark Matter, Lucy Kirkwood’s The Welkin’ or Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt;
4) Original Czech drama written for the Brno National Theatre by renowned contemporary playwrights, such as Lenka Lagronová, René Levínský and Jan Němec.
Milan Šotek, Artistic Director of Drama NdB