Performance Beyond Borders in Twentieth-First Century Prague: Topography of a New Theatre-Making Context

McFadden, Rebecca. 2012. Performance Beyond Borders in Twentieth-First Century Prague: Topography of a New Theatre-Making Context. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Within the framework of the sociology of theatre, this thesis explores the current performance-making landscape of Prague, mapping the emergence of the nové divadlo (new theatre) movement since 2000. An examination of the historical development of Czech theatre foregrounds the discussion of contemporary practice, charting its changing social-political role in domestic and international contexts. Theatre’s significance in forging an ethnolinguistically defined national consciousness is considered as a legacy that continues to impact the field. Theatrical values originating in the nineteenth-century national revival are traced through the interwar avant-garde, dissident small theatre movement of the 1960s and auteur’s theatre of the 1970s and 1980s. The Velvet Revolution of 1989 and theatre artists’ contributions to the defeat of communism are considered as catalysing a period of self-reflexivity, as theatres grappled with new logistical infrastructures and faced a crisis of purpose both dramaturgical and social ins cope. These changes are framed by discussion of the divergent visions of the country’s future posited by Václav Havel and Václav Klaus throughout the 1990s, as well as tensions surrounding European Union ascension and other globalizing processes.

A close examination of the nové divadlo infrastructure that has arisen in the past twenty years identifies the strategies by which this faction of the field has forged a third theatre- making space, distinct from either the repertory system or the pre-revolution avant-garde. Central to this discussion is a consideration of the nové divadlo’s companies, venues and festivals as both reactive and active: responding to an increasingly international city and, simultaneously, actively positioning Czech theatre on world stages. The work and critical reception of Farma v jeskyni (Farm in the Cave) and Krepsko, both self-defining as “international” by virtue of their composition and international touring presence, are

considered with regard to the companies’ dramaturgy, methodology and social function. Finally, the thesis considers how the work of the new theatre movement and, specifically, Farma v jeskyni, constitutes a “practical politics” rooted in the political philosophy of Havel and Jan Patočka.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Sociology of Theatre, Czech Theatre, laboratory theatre, post-Grotowski theatre, Krepsko, Farm in the Cave, nové divadlo, Czech Republic

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 Aug 2013 09:16

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 10:27


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