Vaclav Havel Library Foundation announces a contest for the students of drama and performance studies

Vaclav Havel Library Foundation announces a contest for students of drama and performance studies for the best mini-drama inspired by the quote from the play The Increased Difficulty of Concentration written by Vaclav Havel.

The contest is open to undergraduate students of Drama, Dramatic Writing and Slavic studies—although undergraduate students of other fields are also welcome—who submit an original mini-drama, a one-act play, that has not been published and will not be published before the announcement of the contest results. The contest is anonymous and entries should be sent in pdf format without the author’s name on the script to The subject line should be “The Increased Difficulty of Concentration”. Authors should submit a separate sheet with all contact information in an email titled “[Contestant’s Name] Contact Information.” The winner will be announced in April 2022.

Evaluation Criteria:
The Vaclav Havel Library Foundation will name the jury that will evaluate the creativity, thought-provoking story, understanding of the quote and the original way of applying it to current society as well as other common criteria such as clear structure and organization of the play and its effect on the audience.

Deadline: February 28, 2020


The two best entries will receive awards. One winner will receive a two-week residency at the Academy for Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU) with classes at different DAMU departments, visits to Prague theatres, a round-trip air ticket to Prague, and accommodation. The winner’s schedule at DAMU will be prepared individually according to their study focus and interests. The residency will take place in November 2022—around November 17th, the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

The other will participate in the Encounters, an international festival of theater schools organized by the Janacek Academy of Performing Arts in Brno (JAMU). The uniqueness of this festival with more than twenty-five years of tradition lies in the fact that the main organizers are students themselves.

DAMU is a modern, university-level school of the performing arts. It offers artistic personalities who have a broad cultural perspective and intense desire for profound learning the opportunity to integrate theatrical knowledge and skill with artistic experiment. DAMU is a highly selective school, providing professional education in all branches of theatre creation: acting, directing, dramaturgy, scenography, theory and criticism, theatre management, authorial creation, and drama in education in the fields of regular and alternative theatre, performance studies and puppetry.

The JAMU´s main role is to provide tertiary education in the field of arts (music, theatre, dance, and multimedia) in its accredited study programs. At the same time it actively pursues academic research and publication while striving to develop international partnerships. Students and teachers also participate in various programs and take many opportunities to enhance their skills at partner foreign institutions With Erasmus+ alone, JAMU has contracts with c. 90 institutions from 30 countries.

The Play of Inspiration:

General context:
Václav Havel’s The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (1972) is centered around Dr. Eduard Humul, an academic who is losing control of the events in his life. Humul has troubles with his wife and with his mistress, both of whom spend much of their time with him trying to convince him to end relations with the other. Humul is also under duress from government authorities and must participate in a study for which he must answer questions from a machine (Puzuk) that never seems to work properly.

The Quote:
While dictating to his assistant, the central character Dr. Eduard Humul provides a meta insight into part of the play’s underlying themes. “Certain situations – have been reported – especially in the advanced Western societies – where all the basic needs of the individuals had been satisfied, and where the individuals nonetheless remain unhappy – they experience feelings of depression – boredom – despair, etcetera – period. In such situations, the individual begins to long for something – that in reality he or she may not need at all – he believes he has certain needs – which he doesn’t have – or he longs for something, without really knowing what it is, and consequently, he cannot strive for it – period.”

The Author:
Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) was a playwright, political dissident, and the former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He became well-known as a dramatist in the 1960s when his plays The Garden Party and The Memorandum were seen on world theatre stages. In the 1970s, he was one of the authors of Charter 77 – a manifesto calling for the Czechoslovak government to adhere to the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Agreement. In 1989, he became the leader of the two-month long Velvet Revolution, which culminated in his ascension to the Presidency of the re-established democratic Czechoslovakia.