“The real test of a man is not how well he plays the role he has invented for himself, but how well he plays the role that destiny assigned to him.” ~Václav Havel
Havel loved the social aspects of theater and began working at the ABC Theater in Prague as a stagehand. At that time, Czech theater was being influenced by the “Theatre of the Absurd," including playwrights Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett. This sense of the absurd appealed to Havel and was central to his writing. In the 1960s, he became a leading playwright working at the Theatre on the Balustrad. By 1963, he wrote his first, full-length, publicly performed play, The Garden Party, about a person who has lost his sense of identity. Many of his plays show the absurdity of totalitarian rule through dark comedy and thus were banned by the communist regime. His play Audience features a main character named Vaněk, which represented Havel himself, who also appeared in two subsequent plays Unveiling and Protest. When Audience premiered in New York City, Havel was not allowed to travel out of the country to see it. His plays served as a stage for his ongoing struggle with the regime, his life experiences, as well as his means of support during hard times.
Photo © Bohdan Holomíček
Václav Havel - Audience