Ludmila Janská

* 1938  

  • “Then we staged a play by some author from East Germany. It was a decent play about Joan of Arc. It was a kind of a fantasy play, and they did not burn Joan of Arc at the stake, but they burnt somebody else instead and they hid her somewhere in a convent. And then some years later she is in the convent and she talks with the nuns. I don’t remember anymore what the problem was, but they then banned the play, because there were five nuns as if five armies of the Warsaw Pact which had occupied Czechoslovakia. We thus had to take the play down. Sometimes a play was staged with the awareness that it was a bit provocative, but at other times we staged some play and we did not have a clue and the audience was picking those juicy bits for themselves and responding with joy.”

  • “At that time, people naturally hang on to whatever was slightly anticommunist, for instance, and they reacted to that. When we prepared a play, it would often happen that some committee would come to the final rehearsal and they would tell us: ‘You are allowed or you are not allowed to stage it.’ Or they had comments: ‘That word should not be there, and it should not be like this.’ For example, we staged Chekhov, Uncle Vanya, and there is doctor Astrov who says in the play: ‘Look how it looked here fifty years ago. There were forests everywhere, and it was so beautiful. And now see how it looks today.’ This happened to be on the 50th anniversary of establishment of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. I thus had to correct the fifty years to sixty years, because otherwise it would have already been wrong.”

  • “We staged the play A Delicate Balance, which is a kind of a family drama. A couple, their daughter who is just getting a divorce and who makes a mess in the house. Their friends, a husband and wife, come and they say that they are afraid to be in their home and they ask whether they would be allowed to stay with them. The family lets them in and not only that they become a bit of a nuisance… And now imagine that this was the reason why the play was withdrawn. Because they were unwelcome visitors. And the tanks which arrived to our country in 1968 were an unwelcome visit as well.”

  • Full recordings
  • 5

    Praha, 02.10.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 03:27:09
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 6

    ZŠ nám. Svobody 2, Praha 6, 19.10.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 01:10:53
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Viktor Preiss was one of the two people who appreciated the work of a dramaturge

Portrait, 2016
Portrait, 2016
photo: archiv PNS

Ludmila Janská, née Dědinová, was born February 15, 1938 in Prague. She was attending an amateur theatre club already since she was a little girl and she wished to become an actress. She was not admitted into an acting class at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU) and she therefore studied dramaturgy and theatre studies at the Theatre Faculty. After graduation she worked for two years as a dramaturge in the Czechoslovak Circus and Variety Show Company. Shows. Since 1962 she worked in the Municipal Theatres of Prague, where she spent amazing thirty years. Although they had to deal with censorship at times, she remembers the years in theatre with affection. She had to fight for some plays in order to be able to include them in the program, and when she succeeded, she felt even greater satisfaction from her work. Among such plays were for instance The Play of Love and Death by Edward Albee or Amadeus by Peter Shaffer.