Petr Kolečko (1984) is both playwright and screenwriter, he has a gift to interpret everyday language in special way and he can create impressive dialogues and situations with exaggeration of black humor. The reality is confronted with various unlikely situations. He connects classic themes of Czech and world authors with modern interpretation, he puts “noble” topics into the realm of our everyday reality. He watches the events of great history as if from the backstage.
Petr Kolečko (*1984, Broumov, Czech Republic). In 2009, he graduated from Drama at the Drama Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU). In addition to studying dramaturgy, he also devoted himself to playwriting from the very first year at the Academy. His first professionally staged play was, Britney Goes to Heaven, produced by the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, which was translated into English and in December 2007 was presented as a staged reading at Immigrants Theatre in New York City. The play was also translated into Polish and staged by the Theatre under Ratuzs in Krakow, in March 2007. In 2008, he took part in the prestigious playwright residence at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Between the years 2008-2015, he became one of the most successful Czech authors. Both Czech and foreign theatres have staged over 20 of his plays. Among the best known are the musical Porn Stars (co-author Tomáš Svoboda, produced by: ROXY, Prague and Petr Bezruč Theatre, Ostrava); The ‘women’s trilogy’: The Salome Case, The Medeia Case, The Maryša Case (The Salome Case and The Medeia Case were nominated for the Alfred Radok Award for the Play of the Year). The Forbidden Ease was staged at the A Studio Rubin and has become the basis for the author’s own script for Jan Hřebejk’s film; or the play Poker Face that been produced by three different theatres, in Bratislava, České Budějovice and by the Teatrul Nottara in Bucharest. In October 2016, the play was premiered in London at the King’s Head Theatre. The most recent theatrical achievements of the author are: the crazy comedy Woman at the Counter 2: Counter of Personality with the cult duo Kaiser-Labus at the Kalich Theatre, Prague, or the play Padesátka (Fifty) that inspired a same-named film. The author’s plays have also been produced as staged readings abroad, aside the Immigrants Theatre in New York and the Theatre under Ratusz in Krakow, also at the Royal Court Theatre in London, the Martin Segal Theatre Centre in New York, the Tag Theatre in Vienna or the Satirical Theatre in Sofia.
Apart from theatre, Petr Kolečko has also devoted himself to writing for radio and television. Together with Jan Prušinovsky he wrote the TV series Okresní přebor and has also collaborated on the feature-length film of the same name. In cooperation with Miroslav Krobot he created the TV series Fourth Star. He wrote a feature-length screenplay for The Innocent Lies project, Lie’s Broken Car and Traitor, and also the sitcom Marta and Vera. He also directed the Vinaři TV series. His television movie The Right Jersey was sold to several countries around the world. In June 2014, the movie Forbidden Ease, for which he wrote the screenplay based on his own play, was featured in cinemas, similarly as the movie Padesátka in December 2015, which gained extraordinary success – 450,000 people has seen the movie in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the spring of 2017, Czech Television broadcasted the Trpaslik TV series that he wrote together with Jan Prušinovský. Together with the director Julius Ševčík, he is the co-author of the screenplay for the movie Masaryk that was premiered last year and won the Best Screenplay Award at the Czech Lion Awards.
“Petr Kolečko is one of the foremost creators of his generation and is one of the currently most popular Czech authors. The poetics of Petr Kolečko can be characterized by bizarre stories and quirky storylines. His work with language represents his key original virtue – the playwright can write in verse, use dialects, copy current verbatim and invent innovative speech elements. All his plays are dominated by a continuous demiurgic approach: the constant need to deconstruct the established literary, theatrical and transgressional social and life models and to fill them with up-to-date content. One of the lines of his oeuvre is radical transcriptions of classical dramatic stories (The Salome Case, The Maryša Case). In his transcript of Euripides tragedy entitled The Medeia Case (2010) he situated the story of the heroine in the present and psychologically deepened her experience of betrayal. The novelty of his interpretation of the well-known storyline has also been reflected in the fact that the author has dealt with Medea as a woman who has contributed to not only her family but also her husband’s successful career. We must therefore perceive the play as a kind of criticism of the stereotypically negative understanding of housewives. In addition to that, the play also reflects the civilization contrast between the discourse of the classic myth and the apartment-house reality in which it takes place. The play Poker Face represents an exceptional position in his work. The provocative nature of the play, which is caused mainly by the fact of situating a real person (the well-known and respected president, Václav Havel) into dramatic fiction, comparing the key stages of our history with the present state of society, and confronting of the grotesque individual story with the ‘great’ narrative of history, should illustrate the shift from the revolutionary euphoric idealization of life in democracy to a mere pragmatic approach to reality.” (L. Jungmannová)
Cast: 2 men, 6 women
A tragicomedy about losing illusions about the Velvet Revolution, about losing illusions about today’s world, and about the fact that many people nowadays put all their eggs in one basket.
The story is set in two alternating timelines. The first one takes place just before the revolution (1988) and immediately afterwards, at the time of the general euphoria caused by the democratic changes; the second one is set before the 2011 Christmas during the time of general moral crisis and right after the death of Václav Havel symbolizing the end of post-November 1989 illusions of the Truth and Love.
In the pre-revolution timeline we follow, in short flashback scenes, the fate of Franta, both bitter and comical: he is critically ill with cancer, plays the Czech national card game of Mariáš (Matrimony) and works at the oil wells somewhere in Africa – just moments before his death he would rebuke his daughter Jana for not being able to play his favourite card game which has far reaching consequences for her future life.
A year passes. During the Revolution days, Jana had slept with one or the other of the dissidents in a pub during a power shortage and now she has no idea with whom she’s expecting her baby, her future daughter Pavlína. Jana becomes a solitary, ironic and bitter poker player, and, as a consequence, a millionaire. Twenty two years later, the ironic and sarcastic poker master player returns home from a poker tournament. She surprises her daughter Pavlína with a lover, Viktor, an idealist who believes in the revival of the society through the means of establishing a new political party, with a programme of mandatory support for the employment of young people. But he lacks money and so the sharp and practical Jana is only laughing at his ideals as well as Viktor himself. On the other hand, she offers Viktor two million Euros, but Viktor, disgusted by her cynicism, declines her money.
Nevertheless, next day Viktor returns. He would like to sleep with Jana who fascinates him – but this time the couple is surprised by Pavlína. At first, Viktor tries to claim it all was just a test of Jana’s affection for her daughter (after all, Jana did feel ashamed in front of Pavlína). But a moment later, Viktor surprisingly pulls out a revolver and demands from Jana an enormous sum of money from her winnings that – as he knows – she keeps in her house in gold. Is he really an idealist, or is he bluffing as much as Jana and is in fact just an ordinary, common thief? And is Jana really as devoid of feelings and as cold as she displays in her behaviour to him and to her own daughter, conceived accidentally all these years ago – and maybe even by the future President? It transpires Jana is mainly a better player and from the game of the posturing she emerges as a victor. Devastated and depressed, Pavlína in the end reconciles herself with her mother and starts to learn how to play poker from her.
The play opened in September 2012 at the Gunagu Theatre in Bratislava in Slovak translation. The play originated in the framework of the international project by the Centre for Contemporary Drama Theatre Letí Generation Icons, as a part of the EU Culture 2007 – 2013 Programme.
German translation by Rhea Krcmarova is available. Translations into other languages are getting ready.