DARK DREAMS, Truth International Theater Festival, honoring Václav Havel Announced and Free to Public

Reported on Thursday, June 13, 2024

Pictured Above: Dark Dreams International Theater Festival art. Photo Credit: Contributed.

Rehearsal for Truth International Theater Festival, honoring Václav Havel,

announces programming, June 12 – 23, 2024 in NYC

All events are free to the public



New York, NY – The Rehearsal for Truth International Theater Festival honoring Václav Havel, announces programming for this year’s fest. Entitled Dark Dreams, the festival runs June 12 – 23, 2024 at the Bohemian National Hall, located at 321 East 73rd Street in New York City.


Rehearsal for Truth International Theater Festival is an annual showcase of contemporary Central and Eastern European Theater, founded in 2017. It is a shared endeavor of the Václav Havel Center and the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association in partnership with numerous other cultural and performing arts organizations. The festival honors the artistic and political legacy of the Czech playwright/dissident/president Václav Havel. They support exchanges between American and European theater professionals and celebrate the power of the theater to transform our lives.


Pictured Above: MARIUPOL, Petro Ninovskj. Photo Credit: Pavlo Terekhov. 

This year’s festival features work from Austria, Belarus, Estonia, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Much of the work featured this year is surreal or dreamlike, finding ways to comment on past and present tragedies, from the legacy of the Nazi and Soviet years to the current war in Ukraine. It explores fascism but also beauty, darkness but also laughter.


The festival begins with one of the oldest authors in the vein of the dark and comically surreal, Franz Kafka, on the 100th anniversary of his death. It continues on with not only theater but dance and music. This year, for the first time, film is included in the lineup, specifically film of theater and dance. Most programs include discussions with either the authors, experts on some of the subjects addressed, or both.


Artistic Director Edward Einhorn states, “Rehearsal for Truth is a rare opportunity to hear artistic voices from Central and Eastern Europe. We are at a time marked by war, and once again the region finds itself in the center of conflict. These plays comment on past and present tragedies, from the legacy of the Nazi and Soviet years to the current war in Ukraine. It explores fascism but also beauty, darkness but also laughter.”

Tickets to all programs are free with a suggested donation of $10 per person. Schedule varies – for exact days and times, to reserve tickets, and for more info visit 


“Man is not an omnipotent master of the universe, allowed to do with impunity whatever he thinks, or whatever suits him at the moment. The world we live in is made of an immensely complex and mysterious tissue about which we know very little and which we must treat with utmost humility.” – Václav Havel

Pictured Above: MARIUPOL EXPLOSION. Photo Credit: Pavlo Terekhov.





Wednesday, June 12 at 7:30pm
A Report for an Academy, A Message from the Emperor (Austria/Czechia)

Written by Franz Kafka
Translated by Mark Harman

Original Music for Emperor by Martin Bresnick

Academy directed by Henry Akona

Music Theater performance


Mark Harman’s new translations of Kafka shorts. The first is about an ape who has learned to be human. Read and performed by Markus Hirnigel, directed by Henry Akona in a music hall vein. The second is a new music by piece Martin Bresnick with speaking percussionists (Makana Madeiros and Chad Beebe). Part of a book of new translations being released in honor of the centenary of Kafka’s death.

Pictured Above: BOA. Photo Credit: Contributed.

Thursday, June 13 at 7:30pm


Blood, Sweat, and Queers (Czechia/Germany)

By Tomáš Dianiška

Staged reading directed by Barbora Schnelle and Henning Bochert

Translated by Edward Einhorn and Katarina Vizina


One of the most successful plays in contemporary Czech drama. It deals with a sports scandal of the interwar period that was hushed up in the Czech Republic for a long time. Inspired by the life of the successful athlete Zdena Koubková (1913-1986), celebrated in the sports world of the time as a “wonder woman” and holding several world records until she was identified as intersex in 1936, changed her gender, and underwent surgery to become Zdeněk Koubek. Together with the main character’s life story, Dianiška’s play also describes the increasing fascism of the 1930s, permeated by homophobia, transphobia and gender stereotypes.

Saturday, June 15, 7pm

Jumpcore (Poland)

Choreographer: Pawel Sakowicz

Dance performance


It is not entirely clear if Fred Herko planned to finish his intimate performance with a suicide death. He took a bath, turned on Mozart’s Coronation Mass and began to dance naked in his friend’s living room. He approached an open window several times. When Sanctus resounded, he ran and jumped out the window of the apartment on the fifth floor of New York’s Cornelia Street. Ballet dancers are said to believe they can fly. And indeed, suspended for a second in a jump, they do.



Dance on film: Boa (Poland)

Choreographer: Pawel Sakowicz


Boa is the first choreographic play in the history of the National Stary Theatre in Kraków. Its main theme and explored space of movement is desire, how it is demonstrated, embodied, and performed. In Boa, choreographer Paweł Sakowicz wonders about paths by which desire circulates in the body; how it is created through a spatial orientation of bodies; how it can be intermediated through popular culture, discourses, and technologies, and what its embodied consequences are.

Sunday, June 16 at 3pm

Physical Theater on film: Noon (Czechia)

Commissioned by Divadlo Continuo and Divadlo Archa

Artistic Director: Pavel Štourač

Filmmaker: Amador Artiga

Music: Elia Moretti et al.


Noon combines documentary and physical theatre to tell about the events which followed after the demonstration of eight people in Red Square on August 25, 1968, using visual theatre of insistent images. It is inspired by the poetry of Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Vadim Delone and other Soviet dissident poets of the sixties and seventies, along with a live string quartet accompaniment.

Monday, June 17 at 7:30pm

Mariupol: Diaries of War and the Tree of Life (Ukraine/USA)

Documentary Theater Performance

From Yara Arts Group

featuring “Diary of War” Project

compiled by Daria Kolomiec

and poetry by Serhiy Zhadan

Directed by Virlana Tkacz


Mariupol: Diaries of War and the Tree of Life captures the resilience of Ukrainians in a live multi-media performance about Russia’s full-scale invasion of the city. Directed by Virlana Tkacz, it features four diaries collected by Daria Kolomiec for her “Diary of War” Project and poetry by Serhiy Zhadan. Julian Kytasty created the music and Tom Lee designed the production with Waldemart Klyuzko. Yara Arts Group performs in English with some Ukrainian.

Tuesday, June 18 at 7:30pm

Theater on film: The Last Cyclist (Czechia/USA)

Original play by Karel Švenk

Written by Naomi Patz

Directed by Edward Einhorn

Followed by a 20 minute documentary on the film and history of Karel Švenk


The Last Cyclist, an award-winning film by Naomi Patz and directed by Edward Einhorn, is based on a dark comedy written in the Terezín Ghetto in 1944 by camp inmate Karel Švenk but banned on the night of its dress rehearsal for fear of SS reprisals. The play the actors are rehearsing in the film pits bike riders (Jews) against lunatics (Nazis), as did the absurdist original – a silly story with a deeply serious message. The power of The Last Cyclist allows audiences to bear witness, as if we too are attending that fateful dress rehearsal in the concentration camp, so while we are amused and intrigued, we are also terrified of the murderous immorality of the lunatics – not only in that time, but also in ours.

Pictured Above: RIDERS. Photo Credit: Contributed. 

Wednesday, June 19, 7pm

Dance on film: Riders (Czechia)

Director/choreographer: Lenka Vagnerová


The ability to exist in symbiosis with other creatures on the planet, the importance of respecting the value of all beings, the uniqueness of species and the struggle to preserve them – these are the main themes of the production. The force and power of nature will always find their way and do what is necessary. Riders view human action through the eyes of birds. Of the ancient inhabitants of our planet, sentient, intelligent, free beings, shrouded in mythology. Of the silent observers of our destinies. We had learned from them, admired them and worshiped them. Then we forgot. Birds are the only surviving group of dinosaurs. They were here before us and they will be here long after us.



Dance on film: Commander & Effemery (Czechia)

from Farm in the Cave

Director/choreographer: Viliam Dočolomanský

co-directed by Jiří Matoušek


Two short dance films from Farm in the Cave. Effemery is about fleeting moments. It was filmed during early Covid in a vast, empty building, with 20 performers in permanent motion. Commander is inspired by real online chats of the neo-Nazi group FKD, which was led by a thirteen-year-old boy operating under the nickname Commander. It uses the chats themselves as the text.

Thursday, June 20 at 7:30pm

Helver’s Night (Slovakia/Poland)

Theater performance

By Ingmar Villqist

Directed by Anton Korenči


From Slovakia, with English subtitles. Ingmar Villqist’s Helver’s Night is a thrilling and gut-wrenching play that charts the relationship between Carla and her young charge, Helver. Helver is fascinated by fascism – not by the ideology, which he is unable to grasp, but by the bravura of the movement. With Diana Semanová (Karla) and František Balog (Helver).

Friday, June 21 at 8:30pm

Theater on film: Playing Earl Turner (Austria)

by Laura Andreß and Stefan Schweigert


More than a decade ago, the right-wing extremist terrorist cell known as NSU came across the novel The Turner Diaries by American neo-Nazi William L. Pierce. Initially unnoticed, subsequent trials revealed that this work served as a guide not only for the terrorists in Germany but also for other neo-Nazis worldwide. The performance Playing Earl Turner combines documentary material with fictional literature and, through the confrontation of NSU trial transcripts and scenes from The Turner Diaries, creates a disturbing scenario that fundamentally questions the common notion of lone perpetrators.

Pictured Above: ZLIN. Photo Credit: Contributed. 

Saturday, June 22 at 2pm, 4pm & 7pm

The Zlin Project (Czechia)

Puppet theater performance

Directed by Marta Hermannová


Tomas Bata’s advisor, Berty Ženatý, wanted to replace fairy-tale characters in children’s stories in the 1920s with clever and skilled industrial workers.


A puppet production about the life of the city of Zlín in the era of Baťa. A production about everyday life that is functional, modern, universal, model, routine and effective. Every day, all the time. Until an error occurs.

Sunday, June 23, 4pm

Romanian Theater on film: Here Moscow Calling (Romania)

by Iulia Pospelova

directed by Catinca Drăgănescu


A daughter’s relationship with her father is always special, but how does it change if the father is a famous dictator? How does it feel when Dad is a “monster”? Which reality is the real one? Between family attachment and political conscience, the show proposes a live dissection of a controversial character in the history of the twentieth century. It confronts us with a sensitive process of both the past and the present, abolishing the binary morality of good versus evil.


Here Moscow Calling dynamites the idea of unique truth and proposes to the audience an intense theatrical-cinematic experience, in which the camera becomes the main character and the reconstruction of the truth a puzzle to be solved individually. Moscow (still) does not believe in tears.

Pictured Above: LOWLANDS presentation. Photo Credit: Contributed. 

Workshop presentation of Lowlands (Romania)

Adapted by Mihaela Panainte from the book by Herta Müller

Translated by Jozefina Komporaly

Directed by Ana Margineanu


Lowlands is a haunting depiction of the moral decomposition of the terminal years of communism seen through the eyes of a child from the German minority of Romania. It is based on a text by the Nobel Prize-winning writer Herta Müller. It will be followed by a talk on topics related to the play.

Václav Havel Center (VHC) is a nonprofit organization established in the U.S. in 2012 to honor, preserve and build upon the legacy of playwright, dissident and former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. Václav Havel Library Foundation promotes democratic freedoms, universal human rights, and the power of the arts to uplift and transform our lives in the spirit of Václav Havel.

Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association (BBLA) is a nonprofit organization established in 1891 in New York City as an umbrella entity for almost 80 Czech and Slovak immigrant organizations. The mission of BBLA is to preserve and support Czech and Slovak culture in New York City. BBLA’s members include the American Fund for Czech and Slovak Leadership Studies, Association of Free Czechoslovak Sportsmen, Czech and Slovak Solidarity Council, Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, New York Chapter, Dvorak American Heritage Association, Sokol New York, Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews, and Václav Havel Library Foundation.

Václav Havel (1936-2011) was a playwright, essayist, political dissident and, after 1989, president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. His first full-length play performed in public, The Garden Party (1963), won him international acclaim. Soon after its premiere came his well-known The Memorandum (1965) along with The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (1968). In 1968, The Memorandum was brought to The Public Theater in New York, which helped to establish Havel’s name in the United States. During the repressive period that followed the 1968 Prague Spring, Communist authorities forbade the publication and performance of Havel’s works. Havel refused to be silenced and became an outspoken human rights advocate. He manifested his experience of working odd jobs into Audience, first of the so-called Vaněk Plays (named after Ferdinand Vaněk, a stand-in for Havel), and those plays circulated in samizdat format throughout Czechoslovakia. Havel’s reputation as a leading dissident crystalized in January 1977 with the publication of the Charter 77, a Czechoslovak manifesto that called on the government to honor its human rights commitments under the Helsinki Accords. Havel was arrested many times throughout the remainder of Communism for alleged anti-state activities and sentenced to more than four years in prison. His seminal essay, The Power of the Powerless (1978), had profound impact on dissident and human rights movements worldwide.

Edward Einhorn (Artistic Director) is a playwright, director, translator, librettist, theater journalist, and novelist. He is the Artistic Director of both Untitled Theater Company No.61 and the Rehearsal for Truth International Theater Festival. In 2006, he curated the Václav Havel Festival, which included all of Havel’s work, at multiple theaters throughout New York City, with Havel in attendance. Since then some of his work includes Cabaret in Captivity, songs and sketches from Terezin, written during the Holocaust performed at multiple venues in New York, London, and Washington DC; The Marriage of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein, which received at Critics Pick from The New York Times chief reviewer Jesse Green, performed at HERE in New York and Off-West End at The Jermyn Street Theatre in London; The Pig, or Václav Havel’s Hunt for a Pig, adapted from the work by Václav Havel and Vladimír Morávek, which played at The New Ohio and 3LD Theatres in New York and received a New York Times  and Village Voice Critics Pick; The Velvet Oratorio, an opera-theater production following Havel’s character Vaněk through the Velvet Revolution, which played at Lincoln Center’s Walter Bruno Theatre and Bohemian National Hall; and directing The Last Cyclist, a play by Karel Švenk written in Terezin, which performed at La MaMa and was also shown on PBS affiliate WNET as part of their Theater Close Up series.

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