House of No God
Dodo (Jozef) Gombár (b. 1973 in Trnava /Slovakia)
He graduated as a director at Bratislava’s College of Performing arts (VŠMU) in 1998. Before that, in 1996-97, he spent on attachment at the Circle in The Square Theater School on Broadway in New York, USA, where he directed a production of Tell Me About Birds. Already during his studies he received a range of directing awards at several student and international festivals. After graduating he became the artistic director of the Martin (Slovakia) and Zlín Theatres; the latter position was discontinued unilaterally by the managing director in the summer of 2009. In the meantime he worked as a free-lance director at several theatres in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Italy.
Dodo Gombár also made his mark as a playwright. His play Hugo Karas won the 2nd prize at the Alfréd Radok Awards 1999; the play was then translated into English, published in the anthology called Slovak Contemporary Drama, in 2002 it was produced in England in Huddersfield, and adapted for radio and broadcast by the Slovak Radio in 2006. His text A Third Age was shortlisted for the finale of Alfréd Radok Awards in 2003, and A House without God in the same competition in 2008. His play, Between Heaven and a Woman was also acclaimed internationally.
BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HER (MEDZI NEBOM A ŽENOU)
M 2, F 1
The prologue introduces the audience to the play’s game principle. A Stagehand finds a theatre scenario on the stage and starts reading it giving life to both the Man and the Woman characters. At the same time he becomes a sort of a guide to the action, a lyric commentator and prime mover of the twelve scenes in the play stylised to represent the twelve months of a year. The series of the scenes/sketches is linked together by declamatory texts of the Stagehand who – in a couple of poetic lines – sketches the mood of both the individual month and the love conflict.
The scenes map different conflicts between men and women, real and bizarre, as seen from different angles. The individual months of the year help create a parable of the development of the lovers’ relationship, its beginning, development and destruction. Sometimes it’s a happy love, sometimes it’s a split and parting, sometimes it’s a young couple and sometimes an older one. The mood of the month in question is mirrored in the scene: January represents birth of love, February a conversation of the lovers in bed, March is a pantomime of the Man and the Woman on a bench in park etc. The themes and motives of the Apple of the Original Sin, sex, and doubting love on the one hand; and its invocation and worship on the other hand, with the plot of some of the scenes interlinking to the others. The finale of the play finds the Old Woman and the Old Man going to bed not because of sex but to get some sleep – as the year comes to its close, is it supposed to be the Eternal Sleep?
Translated into English by Danica Haláková, into Polish by Izabella Zalcman.
HUGO CARP (HUGO KARAS)
F 4, M 9
(The author recommends that each actor should play several characters.)
A personal accounting of the protagonist just about to enter “serious life”. Fragmented images from both his childhood (the relationship between his father and mother, his grandfather’s death) and coming of age (his “gang”, first love, drug experience) flick in front of his eyes.
The play features strange, unsentimental but emotionally charged images full of sarcastic perspective and smiling bitterness. The through line is defined by saying goodbye and leaving... The death seems to play the lead role in Hugo’s life. The Chekhovian mood of the trees being felled and loss of the old certitudes is expressed by contemporary language where the light conversation and strong language cover the anxiety and incertitude of one’s own existence.
The play won the 2nd prize at the Alfréd Radok Awards 1999 (the 1st prize was not attributed that year).
Translated into English by Katarína Slugeňová-Cockrell, into Polish by Izabella Zalcman.
A HOUSE WITHOUT GOD (BEZ BOHA DOM)
M 10, F 5
a play in five scenes
This is a drama about the strength of family solidarity and seeking both faith and meaning of life. The action is set to an unnamed Slovak village during the All Saints festivities (the theme of death is repeated in the play under many aspects). In the village everybody knows everything about everybody. In a shared house lives a family – besides the central personality, the father, who died recently there is a religious, loving and patient mother and her three sons. In the past, the youngest of them, thirty years old Marek, left a local girl Katka to enter a Catholic seminary to dedicate his life to God; now she is a single mother (Marek is not the father of her child). He fails and returns home for the All Souls' Day.
Here he meets his mother and his older brothers – a faithless, self-absorbed and odd sculptor Ondrej who prefers Halloween to the All Souls' Day. Ondrej is unable to forgive his brother the fact he took away Katka for him at the time and locking himself in his studio to produce wooden statues – that, ironically, are inspired by the Bible. The oldest brother, Richard, works as a railway driver and witnessed several suicides under the wheels of his locomotive. He lives with his wife Alžběta and his two children in a stale marriage without conflict, sometimes visiting the local pub where he sits around with Katka’s father, the pub owner Gazda, the local drunk Koňas and the other train driver Švehla (who witnessed the suicides).
The religious protagonist Marek, who is also in a way telling the story of the play, looks for a meaning of life (the experience of the Roman Catholic seminary was just another stop in his life journey). He solves many of his problems in a row with Ondrej and is able to resist temptation offered by the seduction of Richard’s wife Alžběta. Nevertheless and despite all the conflicts, the family and the village represent for him a kind of security he keeps leaving to return to both as if caught in a circle.
But his short stay in his home house changes everything. Katka is wooed by a mysterious unfriendly stranger, Ondrej almost dies in the fire at his studio (although the sculpture of Crucifixion he made is not damaged by the flames), the suicide from the train is revealed as his childhood friend... Marek decides again to leave behind the village with the house and his family, he tries to move Katka to go and live with his crippled brother Ondrej who is obviously still in love with her, then he goes out into the wide world again... The family house that seemed Godless after the death of his father becomes the only fixed point not only in his own life.
The script was shortlisted in the Alfréd Radok Competition for the best original Czech or Slovak play for 2008.
THE THIRD AGE (TRETÍ VEK)
M 5, F 4
The play with its subtitle “The Images of Generations” was shortlisted for the Alfréd Radok playwriting award for original playscript in 2002. It is a bitter comic farce about several generation now getting to their “turn of age”.
A sometime popular actor Jan Dolina, now retired and turning more and more to drink, is being questioned by Egon, a boyfriend of his daughter who wants to do a feature program on him. The interview is set in a retirement home where Dolina is locked with a gay musician, Arnošt. The consent was given secretly by Egon’s friend Dušan, a psychologist working in the home. The only motive for Jan Dolina to speak into the dictaphone is to find reconciliation with his daughter Tamara: he’s sure open communication with her boyfriend will have a positive influence on her. The psychologist Dušan expects a baby with Egon’s former partner Tereza but does not consider their relationship to be something stable and fixed.
The mosaic, composed in an almost “Chekhovian”, many layered way out of the interlinked fate of the characters is complemented by both the dysfunctional relationship of Egon’s parents unable to communicate with each other for many years now, and the nurse Magda who is romantically involved with Dušan.
The author lets the menagery of his characters sink all the way to the very bottom of their relationship and their will to live: Arnošt attempts a suicide; Egon’s mother leaves his father for Dolina getting “revenge” for his old misdemeanour; both Dušan and Egon have to deal with their tired relationship to their partners... The ending is utopic: they find strength to fight their own egoism, and even Egon’s parents find the way to each other. It would seem nothing more stands in the way of a Third Age of love and understanding.
Kateřina Tučková – Dodo Gombár
20 M, 16 F, with a possibility of doubling
A drama about women “witches talking to God” from the Czech/Slovak border region.
The famous novel by Kateřina Tučková has reached an expected production, dramatization having been commissioned for the Městské divadlo [City Theatre] Zlín, and opened on March 1, 2014. The producing theatre is in the region where the action takes place – but both the strength of the storyline and the novel’s popularity offers the opportunity for this dramatization to be produced at other stages – both Czech and Slovak.
The Moravské Kopanice region, at the borderline between Moravia and Slovakia, safeguards its dramatic mysteries. People still keep their idiosyncratic way of life so unlike the life in the towns. Kateřina Tučková’s novel pointed out the story of the remarkable women only mentioned at the time by those still remembering them and historians, the women faith healers able both to cure and to curse linked closely to the nature and remarkable magic rooted in the deepest prehistory. The novel narrates a dramatic story in which the past of these women, nicknamed Goddesses, is discovered by the niece of one of them, Dora Idesová, with extreme obsession. The more Dora finds about these women’s past, the more she seems to learn about herself.
M 2, F 2
Translated into English by Lucie Kolouchová