Josef Kovalčuk

* 1948  †︎ 2018

  • "We had decided to make a rerun of the Rozrazil show on 17 November at the Na Chmelnici club. Despite it taking close to four hours, the interest was such that we we played it twice. Suddenly, during the evening show, a guy showed up in the backstage - an amateur actor from Brno. He came from Národn třída and was beaten up. Petr Oslzlý took him to the stage immediately. He was telling us in backstage what was happening there. Petr took him on stage to tell the other people. He started telling it and was about to break down. He couldn't even stand. We had to offer him a chair. In practice, he gave the first-ever public testimony about what had happened at Národní třída."

  • "After Palach's death, we decided to make an event. On the day of his funeral, we would all light up candles in our dorm rooms. But this information got leaked. Maybe we weren't too secretive about this whole thing. And so they gave out a strict ban: whoever would light up a candle in their room would be not only kicked out of the dorms but also from school, which was of course a very serious punishment. But we hadn't given up. In the end, we lit the candles in public spaces such as restrooms, shower rooms, staircases. So, the candles were really lit the day of his funeral."

  • "On Saturday morning when it was about to take place, we came to the Na Chmelnici club. It was locked with chains and they said the debate was cancelled. We didn't know who cancelled it. But we decided to make the discussion elsewhere. One of our colleagues worked on the reparation of the Vyšehrad fortress and had a changing room for the workers in one of the gates. So we thought of meeting there on a weekend and organize a discussion. Have people from the dissent come over, along with people from studio theaters. We had met there for the first time, and the discussion was extremely interesting and inspiring. We decided to do that more often and for about six months, kept doing it. Havel, Chramostová, Zdeněk Urbánek, Karel Kraus and other people from the dissent were coming over."

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    Brno, 27.10.2017

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We fought for a chance to speak up our minds

IMG_20171027_0001 (1).jpg (historic)
Josef Kovalčuk
photo: autoři natáčení

Josef Kovalčuk was born on 5 August 1948 in Trutnov. He graduated from history and literature at the Faculty of Philosophy, Palacký University in Olomouc. As a student, he participated in strikes against the Soviet occupation, and was struck by the death of Jan Palach. After that, he studied dramatics at the Theatre Academy in Prague. In 1974, he co-founded the theatre association HaDivadlo which first operated in Prostějov and then in Brno. His goal was to have the actors comment on the situation in society with the use of theater. In the 1970s and 80s, he was vocal in his disapproval of the communist regime and he was in touch with dissidents. HaDivadlo often got in conflict with the communist officials. Some of his plays were forbidden, others had to be amended according to the censors’ instructions before being shown. In November 1989, Josef Kovalčuk actively participated in the nation-wide strike and along with other artists travelled to factories around Moravia to explain the workers what was the revolution about. From 1990 till 1996, he was the dean of the Theatre Faculty in Brno. Then, up until 2002, he served as head of the dramatic company at National Theatre in Prague. Ever since, he has once again taught at the faculty in Brno. Josef Kovlalčuk passed away on June, the 30th, 2018.