Magazine created by students of the Department of English and American Studies at Masaryk University.

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Issue VIII - page 2

Havel in the Village: American and Czechoslovak Theatre in 1968

in Current Issue/Views

by Tess Megginson

1968 was a watershed year for political activism and artistic expression in both the United States and Czechoslovakia. The United States’ failure in the Tet Offensive led to an unprecedented number of protests against American involvement in Vietnam. Czechoslovakia’s relaxation of censorship laws led to an unprecedented number of publications. Throughout the mid-to-late 1960s, the theatre scenes in Prague and New York City experienced similar upheavals against conventional theatre. It was in this political and creative climate that Václav Havel visited the United States for the first time to see the first American performance of his play, The Memorandum, at the New York Public Theatre in April 1968. Arriving only weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Havel encountered an America as tumultuous and changing as his home country. I will use Havel’s visit to New York City to discuss the political climate at the time, focusing on the American theatre scene in a year that has become synonymous with political activism and rejection of the status quo. In 1968, Czechoslovak and American theatre fostered the unconventional and the absurd. Keep Reading

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