The Travesty of Truth, In the 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival

Experience engaging contemporary performances from Central Europe at Manhattan’s Bohemian National Hall. Free tickets are available online. 

The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival explores the disappearance of borders between truth and lies. The festival consists of five international performances—three full plays, one dance performance and a behind-the-scene presentation—along with four special events. In total, the activities offer a notable occasion for adventure of the mind and conduits for shared encounters.

RFT19-invite-web-544x326The festival examines different nuances of truth through its third edition, “The Travesty of Truth.” Conceived under the direction of Pavla Niklova, the 2019 Rehearsal for Truth program encourages participants to enter a dialogue on pressing matters that pervade our post-truth era. “The time when boundary is blurred between truth and lie, theater holds the power to re-establish relationships between participants through a common engagement and common experience of truth,” states Niklova. While some shows consider the matters of historical memory, cultural traditions or manipulation of facts (Truth (Poland), Audience (Czech Republic), Hungarian Acacia (Hungary)), others delve into the more intimate realm by raising questions of privacy and personal boundaries in relationships (Watch Now (Slovakia), Woman Alone (Romania)).

The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival takes places at the Manhattan’s historic Bohemian National Hall. All shows are featured in their original languages with English supertitles. Each is followed by a talk-back with the performers along with an afterparty hosted by the countries’ cultural institutes and consulates general in New York. Special events include a month-long exhibition of photographs documenting productions of Vaclav Havel’s plays, a live virtuoso performance by orchestra Gypsy Devils and a vibrant panel discussion. The 2019 Gala celebrates the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution that brought freedom to Central and Eastern European countries. It honors Ambassador Craig Stapleton and Mrs. Dorothy Stapleton and presents the Disturbing the Peace Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk. All Rehearsal for Truth productions are free to the public except the Gala.

For the first time, two plays from the Rehearsal for Truth program will debut at the Jersey City Theater Center. The Slovak dance performance Watch Now will be featured on September 26, followed by the Polish performance Truth on September 27. To find out further information, visit In addition, Vaclav Havel’s play Audience will be featured at Davis Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., on October 2, and at Chopin Theatre in Chicago on October 6.


Tuesday, September 24, 7:30 pm
Woman Alone / Romania / play, talkback, afterparty
Playwrights: Dario Fo, Franca Rame
Directed by: Daniel Grigore-Simion
Cast: Andreea Bibiri
Presented by: Art Theatre Bucharest, Romanian Cultural Institute

Woman Alone unveils the story of Maria and the elements of her domestic life that entrap her. She grapples to cope with the pressure of her crazy father-in-law while raising a baby and dealing with a voyeuristic neighbor. Will Maria, an embodiment of physically, verbally or non-verbally abused women, find the courage to escape?

Wednesday, September 25, 7:30 pm
Watch Now / Slovakia / play, talkback, afterparty
Conceived and produced by: Lucia Holinova
Choreographers: Daniel Racek, Lucia Holinova
Performers: Magda Caprdova, Daniel Racek,
Music: Vlado Holina, Vocals: Sandra Tordova
Presented by: RESERVA, Bratislava

Captivating dance performance that delves into the present-day issues of identity and loss of privacy. Accompanied by live music, Watch Now follows a couple undergoing a difficult time in their relationship. Their fluid interplay sees mutual motions of pushing and pulling as they manipulate and gently caress each other along with refusing contact and inflicting distress. The man and the woman interpret their shared touches, glances and gestures differently as they move through the sequences.

Saturday, September 28, 6:00 pm
Hungarian Acacia
/ Hungary / presentation of performance projects, discussion
Conceived and directed by: Kristof Kelemen, Bence Gyorgy Palinkas

Engaging, behind-the-scenes glimpse of Hungarian Acacia and other performance projects conceived to address the public discourse in Hungary in a satirical way. Artists-directors Kelemen and Palinkas will discuss their creative practice and working methods and show footage of Hungarian Acacia iterated as a live event as well as an onstage re-enactment of societal activities with musical performances and recited political speeches.

Saturday, September 28, 7:30 pm
Truth / Poland / play, talkback, afterparty
Conceived and directed by: Piotr Borowski
Cast: Gianna Benvenuto, Magda Czarny, Michal Lorent
Presented by: Studium Teatralne, Warsaw, Polish Cultural Institute, supported by the City of Warsaw

Truth exposes a lack thereof: an existence fraught with the absence of the sacred, devoid of any mystery, purpose or metaphysical worth. While the main character of Truth is not present, the scene is preoccupied with striving for knowledge and new creation, as well as by aggression, survival instinct and usurpation that claims a monopoly on truth. What are the sources of our cultural traditions? Haven’t we denied many established facts that guide us further towards answers on how to live—and why?

Friday, October 4, 7:30 pm
Audience / Czech Republic / play, talkback, afterparty
Playwright: Vaclav Havel
Directed by: Jakub Spalek
Cast: Jan Potmesil, Tomas Karger
Presented by: Kaspar at Theatre in Celetna, Prague, Czech Center New York

Audience features a meeting between the brewery manager Sladek and employee Vanek. While the manager is clearly opening too many beers and inducing binge drinking, it is less clear what he wants from Vanek. Audience (1975) is the first piece in a trilogy of partly autobiographical one-act plays known as the “Vanek Trilogy” (followed by Protest (1978) and Mistake (1983)) based on Vaclav Havel’s experience of being forced to work in a brewery while under constant harassment from the Communist regime.


Thursday, September 26, 6:00 pm
30 Years of Freedom Gala / benefit night

Benefit gala celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution leading to the independence of Czechoslovakia and other Central and Eastern European countries, with guests of honor Ambassador Craig Stapleton and Mrs. Dorothy Stapleton, presentation of the annual Disturbing the Peace Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk and exciting live auction.

Friday, September 27, 7:30 pm
Gypsy Devils / concert

Legendary Slovak orchestra Gypsy Devils brings to life original arrangements, combining classical pieces with musical genres such as jazz, ethno, flamenco and Gypsy. The orchestra interweaves styles, also adding rhythmical and harmonic changes imbued with extraordinary virtuosity.

Monday, October 7, 6:00 pm
In Conversation: Havel in America / moderated discussion

Pavla Niklova, Director of Vaclav Havel Library Foundation, has invited participants from the oral history collection Havel Conversations and authors of a new book Havel v Americe (Havel in America) featuring interviews from the project to share their experiences. The guests include William Luers, former U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Director of the Iran Project; Wendy Luers, Founder and President of the Foundation for a Civil Society; Martin Palous, President of the VHLF, former Czech Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N.; Rosamund Johnston, historian and radio journalist specializing in Central Europe and the Czech Republic in particular; and Lenka Kabrhelova, 2018 Nieman Fellow, creative producer and presenter at Czech Radio.

September 5 – October 20
Vaclav Havel – Citizen and Dramatist / exhibition
Presented by: Czech Center New York

Graphic panel exhibition Vaclav Havel – Citizen and Dramatist showcases Vaclav Havel’s playwright trajectory through printed stills of his theatrical works from the early 1960s through today, both on Czech and foreign stages, and photographs and documents providing insight into Havel’s life. Short excerpts from Havel’s interviews will be read by Untitled Theater Company #61 at the opening on September 5. For more information, visit

Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street (between 2nd & 1st Aves), New York, NY 10021
Subway: Q line – 72nd Street, 6 line – 68th Street Hunter College or 77th Street

Discounted parking of $26 for up to 10 hours for guests of Bohemian National Hall is available at GGMC Parking. Two parking entrances: 307 East 73rd Street and 300 East 74th Street. Present your parking ticket at BNH reception for a validation sticker.


The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival is organized by the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation (VHLF) and Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association (BBLA), in partnership with Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and Romanian performing arts organizations and cultural institutes. The series of events highlight Vaclav Havel’s legacy as a playwright through live performances, panel discussions, exhibitions and a ceremony for the Disturbing the Peace Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk. A key objective is to establish exchanges between U.S. and Central European theater professionals. The festival reflects Havel’s contribution to 20th-century theater as well as his belief in the potential of Central European cultural traditions to enrich human existence in the modern age. The program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


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