Cold-War artifacts from The Wende Museum
The Vanek Trilogy, a production of three one-act plays at Theatrum Elysium is currently previewing. The performances run from 31 Oct - Nov 18, 2012 at Theatrum Elysium's home in La Crescenta.
It's a joy working with LA's foremost teaching theatre, and directing these wonderful plays has been a thrill. Havel's mastery is in his mix of comic Absurdism and astute political observations as relevant today as when they were written.
One of the most exciting aspects of this production has been in our collaboration with The Wende Museum, a collections-based research and education institute of Cold War artifacts and history.
My first visit to the Wende Museum was in April 2012 to watch a staged reading of the first English language translation of conversations between Brecht collaborator, composer Hanns Eisler and journalist, Hans Bunge.
Following the readings we enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour with Museum director, Justinian Jampol. One of the highlights of that tour was seeing an exhibit of Cold-War state surveillance equipment.
Several months later I found myself directing The Vanek Trilogy, plays of a dissent writer who lived under the scrutinizing gaze of the communist government of 1970s Czechoslovakia. I knew at once that if we could bring some of those Wende artifacts to the Theatrum Elysium space, we could be able to connect them to the human world of our plays and add a dynamic layer of texture and meaning both to the Havel stories and the artifacts themselves.