Prague, July 19 (CTK) – Renowned Czech playwright and author Pavel Kohout is preparing a drama version of his novel The Hangwoman (Katyne), which a Czech amateur group linked to the late former president Vaclav Havel will perform in the world premiere next spring in Havel’s honour, Kohout has told CTK.
Havel (1936-2011), a former leading dissident, was also a playwright. The amateur drama group in Horni Pocernice, east of Prague, played his Beggar’s Opera in the world premiere in 1975, Kohout, himself a former dissident who is turning 90 on July 20, said.
In 2013, Kohout was presented with the prime minister’s honorary plaque for his contribution to Czech literature.
“I did not expect this, nor am I expecting any award now or in the future,” said Kohout, whose best-known works are the drama August August, the Clown and Such a Love, and novels The Hangwoman, Where the Dog is Buried and The Hour for Dance and Love.
Kohout, the author of about 60 plays, 20 scripts and 15 prose works, lives alternately in Prague and Vienna.
He said he will spend his birthday with his family and friends, merrily and without any special programme.
In the Czech Republic, the latest performance of his play was that of Hasler, a life story of the late popular Czech songwriter, which was on the repertoire of Prague’s Na Vinohradech Theatre for several years until recently.
This is the “residence” theatre of Kohout, having produced 16 of his plays so far.
Kohout, widely considered the most played Czech author, said he does not know whether some of his plays is onstage abroad now.
Kohout was originally a communist author who, however, had a speech critical of the communist regime at the Czechoslovak Writers’ Union congress in 1967. One year later, he became one of the protagonists of the Prague Spring communist reform movement.
He told CTK that he became a democrat in reaction to the then hardline communist regime in the 1970s and wants to keep this role.
Kohout commented on the current political situation in the Czech Republic in the epilogue to the recent new issue of his memoirs, where, addressing the young generations, he wrote about January “television shots that showed the old-new president warmly receiving an enthusiastic homage from dangerous demagogue T.O…., who seeks a chance to lead the Czech nation from the EU and NATO… These pictures are crying silently, don’t underestimate them!”
Kohout was evidently alluding to Milos Zeman, after his re-election as Czech president, and Tomio Okamura, leader of the ultra-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement.