Art of Mothering
Invitation, 19.11.2010, Národní divadlo Brno, opera, libreto Leoš Janáček
My short interview about “The True Excursion of Mr Brouček to the Moon” with Mrs. Pamela Howard, director and scenographer.
What is the performance about?
The performance is about the dilemma of a middle aged bourgeois man caught with one foot in the old world and one foot in the new. It is a very human story, and one that repeats itself in all generations. Broucek is disconcerted… Nothing makes sense to him, and he falls into the habit of drinking rather too much in the nearby Vikarka. The performance takes plave over a period of 12 hours, from midnight to mid-day the next day.
Broucek emerges as usual drunk from the pub, and falls on the ground in a drunken stupor. The audience then enter into his drunken dream where he goes to ‘the moon’ which in reality is nothing more than the transformation of the Vikarka to the temple of the lunar arts. In his dream on the moon, he thinks he sees all the people he knows in Prague, but they are all highly coloured and slightly different. He finds the moon, that he thought would be so different from prague even more confusing. At mid day the next day, when life begins again. His housekeeper comes looking for him and finds him in the back of his Škoda car. He had been too drunk to get home. She is furious, but broucek realises he is better off with her than searching for a perfect world of his dreams. Life goes on and he has to make the best of it. The performance ends as it began with a slow waltz dances by the people of prague on a sunny december morning in the snow. A memory of the old days
Why should people come?
Because this is the first time anyone will have seen the epilog actually staged. This is the 1st version of the opera that Janacek wrote, without the second part that is now more usually performed where broucek goes to prague in the 15th century. This is more of a domestic drama than a fantasy and one that everyone can relate to. Also its funny, touching and colourful with wonderful choreography by Ladislava Kosikova and lighting by daniel tesar
What is you connection to czech composer, Leoš Janáček?
I am a great lover of czech music which started many years ago when i discovered the music of Bohuslav Martinu while i was living and working in prague based at DAMU. I staged the greek premiere of Martinu’s the Greek Passion, and last year his one act comic opera ‘The Marriage’ (Zenitba) as it was written in english in 1953 which was also a world premiere.this year has been the year of czech music in Great Britain and we have something every day on the radio and in our concert halls. Through this we have become very familiar with Janacek and other composers such as Josef Suk and Pavel Haas, as well as all the others Smetana, Dvorak, etc. I particularly love Janacek’s harmonies which express so vividly the clash of two worlds at the time he was writing.
What was your first idea about “First republic”?
I have set my production exactly in 1920. I normally do a great deal of contextual research before coming to any visual or production ideas. My researches confirmed what i already knew that this was a fantastic period for cz. There was optimism, growth, exports, particularly in steel products (skoda cars es-ka /bicycles/ portable typewriters/ city incinerators, etc ) and a flourishing international art and architecture movement. In many fields cz was an example to the world, and things were accessible for people. I wanted to reflect an essence of that huge change from the austro-hungarian empire to the 1st republic. I always try to show something optimistic in my work.
What was the most pleasant part of your work about “Brouček”?
Every stage has its creative pleasures, but for me the best is when i give away my own personal ideas to all the artistic collaborators, singers, choroegraphers, lighting designers and technicians, and together we make a final creation bringing the music, and vision into a unity. This is utterly pleasurable especially the inherent czech musical ability that i so much admire.
See costume visualization at: http://www.pamelahoward.co.uk/pamela_howard_the_true_excursion_of_mr_broucek_to_the_moon.php