Ivan Kalina

* 1942  

  • "We called the director because it was just about to start. And the director said “No way!” to let the performance start immediately. He tried to call Prague, but no one answered, that is the paradox. And he said he would come to the theater. Well, we already had two summonses (student and actors against the intervention on Národní třída on November 17, 1989), so we went in front of the audience. I read both summonses. I invited the audience to decide if they wanted us to play or not. I was still an actor in that way. And the spectators muttered and grunted for a while, then about fifteen people got up and left. Well, they voted with their feet. The fifteen people remained, they asked us to play, that the bus comes for them at ten o'clock, that they are from Holešov. And that there are disabled people among them, we saw wheelchairs there then. So, we played, we didn't strike."

  • "And right from the morning, you could say, the duties began, because the paining room in the theater was in full swing, we distributed leaflets, wrote on trolleybuses. The most important activity of the theater at that time was probably that there was a very modern recording studio at that time in the rehearsal room one, and from there not only our actors broadcasted, they mainly presented. They broadcasted to the whole Europe thanks to a long-wave transmitter in Topolná street. They broadcasted everything, everything what was happening, what they learned from Prague, etc. We young people guarded this broadcast, we were going around Zlín to find out when the Russians would come, and so on."

  • "And, of course, I didn't know anything about monetary reform at the age of ten or eleven or how exactly old I was in 1953, just between the tenth and the eleventh. And I know, I remember well that on the one hand there was confusion at school, suddenly no one taught us, we were in class, we felt locked up there, that we were not allowed anywhere. A teacher always came to reassure us, then left again. I know we were making swallows out of paper and wrote, 'We want to go home,' and threw them out of the window. And then suddenly the parents started coming to pick the students up during the morning and we finally started to learn what was happening. I know that from the windows we saw buses full of police forces. And then I remember the way home pretty well. My parents didn't come for me. My mother, she ran around Pilsen from assembly to assembly and manifested. My father took care of everything else and I went home alone through Pilsen. And I remember the overturned tram in Solní Street, where we used to live before and which I had to go through, and of course there were a lot of people around it. However, I got home without any problems, my father was all nervous where my mother was, he was very worried about her. We waited, well, then mom came home around lunchtime."

  • "[My brother] was in Yugoslavia, I met him there in 1966, after fifteen years we, brothers, saw each other. He knew me as a nine-year-old boy. My wife and I came to Belgrade on an invitation. There he was working for two or three years. He simply established branches of Pan American in the East."

  • "Experiences from the war. Or I remember my father sending us to... I don't actually remember it, I know it from the stories that people were saying, but I come to that memory. My father just sent us to see my grandfather in Merklín, because Pilsen was bombed hard. And I remember that we were there in Merklín on the so-called Golden Hill and I saw planes flying towards Pilsen. I just remember standing there looking at the section of those planes. These are my experiences of the war. Thanks God that I do not have any others.

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    Zlín, 21.11.2019

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    duration: 02:23:57
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
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We lay behind the radiators and called the director to say what was going on

Ivan Kalina, high school graduation, Pilsen, 1960
Ivan Kalina, high school graduation, Pilsen, 1960
photo: Private archive of Ivan Kalina

Ivan Kalina was born on November 10, 1942 in Pilsen. His father Václav Kalina had a company with dental technology, his mother stayed in the household where two of Ivan’s step-brothers lived with them. In 1945, a witness experienced the bombing of Pilsen and overflights of Allied air unions. After liberation, he met American soldiers, for whom his older brother worked as an interpreter. February 1948 marked the end of his father’s business and later the emigration of Ivan’s step-brother Bohuslav to the West. As a primary school student, he experienced mass protests in the spring of 1953 against the announced monetary reform - the so-called Pilsen Uprising. During his high school studies, the witness began performing in a school theater ensemble. Over time, he went through up to eight ensembles, gaining the most experience in the studio at the J. K. Tyl Theater. Although he did not get into the long-desired acting studies, at the age of eighteen he began his first engagement at the theater in Varnsdorf. He began his basic military service in the autumn of 1961 at the Zelená Hora chateau near Nepomuk. In the second half of October 1962, he experienced combat activation of his anti-aircraft unit during the Caribbean crisis. In November 1962, he married actress Božena Nevrlková. After the military service he started engagements in Olomouc and Jihlava, in 1966 he became a member of the theater ensemble in the then Gottwald. In the days of August 1968, he took part in anti-occupation protests at the theater and during the autumn he performed in anti-totalitarian productions. In July 1989, he signed the petition A Few Sentences. In November 1989, Ivan Kalina became one of the leading figures of the Velvet Revolution at the Gottwald Theater. Since 1990, he was leading the theater for eight years. He later devoted himself to acting again and retired in 2004, but occasionally plays to this day (2019).