Barbara Day

* 1944

  • „Well, when I came to Czechoslovakia, I realised that it was much more of an accepted profession. In Britain, we were still considered to be, well, to use the old phrase, 'rogues and vagabonds'. There was something not quite respectable about the theatre. I know my father´s sister, my aunt, just wouldn´t entertain the idea that I could go into theatre, it wasn´t an acceptable career. And my parents felt that it wasn´t really very serious either. But when I came over here, I discovered that the theatre was taken very seriously. That it was perfectly respectable career. And that it wasn´t where you found unemployment, well, of course unemployment was not an option under communism. But even now I realise that it´s much more stable career then it was, than it ever has been or is now in Britain. It´s a different kind of... For example, I was amazed by the Theatre Institute, that there could be such an organisation that kept record and was fully funded and was a very serious organisation. I really didn´t think we´we got anything like that in Britain. And when I started studying Drama at university, I think I mentioned it, it was only the second university in the whole country to offer a course in Drama. That it was either... Either you went to study English literature at university of something serious like that, or you went to acting school and became part of the rather not very respectable profession. So it was a different... a totally different atmosphere when I came here. The one that I really enjoyed.“

  • „Well, the French organisation was particularly important, it had been started by Catherine Audard who was the partner of one of the British founders of the Jan Hus foundation, Alan Montefiore. And she... Like Alan Montefiore, she is a philosopher, still working, still teaching, and she had a lot of French contacts whom she had activated to start something similar to the British. And the were really very competitive, they were almost quite indignant that the British had thought of this first and quickly started their own organisation, which was to some respect more political than ours. The British Jan Hus Foundation was always, as far as it could be, politically neutral. Its attitude towards communism was that it wasn´t... that it was independent, that it was providing independent education, not an anti-communist education. And that was quite a distinctive feature of its work. And according to the British spectrum, it went from Left to Right. Jessica and Roger were more to the Right-wing, but we had other trustees Bill Newton-Smith, Alan Montefiore, Paul Flather, who were more to the Left-wing.“ - „And the French were different?“ - „The French were more active politically. And more left-wing. Somewhere in the chronicles there is a story of... I think he must had been French lecturer, who went to one of the underground seminars and lectured on Marxism. And that was not very popular, not very well received.“

  • „Well, they musn´t write anything down. So they had... Or they musn´t write anything explicit down. If they wanted to remember addresses or people´s names, this had to be somehow... They had to find a way of memorising them or coding them. So that hey knew what to do when they got there and didn´t have to ask anyone where to go or what to do. If they were... if their belongings were searched, it wouldn´t betray names on anyone in Prague or in Brno. Then when they got there, we tried to explain to them in very lot of detail if they hadn´t been before, in a lot of detail, how they should find the house or flat they were going to. And how they should get there. Who they would probably find there. That we would give them the name of the person to whom they could talk most openly. And advise them that at the seminar they simply gave their lecture and talk about philosophy but didn´t talk about things that were peticular to the Foundation.“

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 07.01.2020

    duration: 01:56:31
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 09.01.2020

    duration: 01:54:34
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

We supported Czechoslovak dissent, but it was not illegal

Barbara Day, portrét
Barbara Day, portrét
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Barbara Day was born on June 9th 1944 in the United Kingdom, as the third daughter of a schoolmistress and a Church of England priest. She spent her childhood in a rectory house in Sheffield and in a boarding school, after that she went to Sheffield Girls High School and graduated from The University of Manchester where she studied Drama. From 1965 to 1966, she lived in Czechoslovakia on a scholarship; she also witnessed the Warsaw pact invasion of August 1968 She had been working in theatres in London, in Bromley, in Stoke on Trent and in Bristol, where she organised the Bristol Czechfest, a festival of Czech culture, in 1985. Since the mid 80s she had been working with the Jan Hus Educational Foundation and she took part in organizing seminars and lectures by Western academics and intellectuals in Czechoslovakia. She has been awarded the Order of the British Empire member class, she also received a memorial medal of the President of Republic, Václav Havel.