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Havel bench unveiled in Horní Počernice

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Prague, May 18 (CTK) – The bench of late Czech president Vaclav Havel has been unveiled outside the theatre in Horni Pocernice, a Prague suburb that premiered his play The Beggar’s Opera in 1975.

There have been 20 Havel’s benches until now, 12 in the Czech Republic and eight abroad, including Oxford, Barcelona and Tel Aviv. The first bench was unveiled in 2013 at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

The special memorial officially called Havel’s Place was designed by architect and his friend Borek Sipek and it consists of two garden armchairs and a round table with a tree growing in the middle.

The Beggar’s Opera, written by John Gay three centuries ago, is widely known thanks to the adaptations by Bertold Brecht and later Vaclav Havel.

In 1975, when the authorities did not let Havel stage his plays in his homeland, a secret premiere of his Beggar’s Opera was organised for several hundred spectators in a pub in Horni Pocernice on the northeastern outskirts of the capital city. This was the only public performance of a play by Havel held until the fall of the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1989. Many of the people who participated in the performance or attended it faced police persecutions afterwards.

Havel later said he appreciated this performance the most of all of the premieres of his plays.

Havel (1936-2011), a playwright, thinker and dissident, was the country’s first postcommunist president (1989-2003). The Garden Party, Beggar’s Opera, Audience, Temptation and Unveiling are among his most popular plays. His last play, Leaving, was premiered in 2008.

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