As an overview, I decided to add some of my travel to this blog.  It’ll be out of order for a while, but bear with me – I thought it might be fun to add something besides just beads.  

In 2005 I was in “gradual school,” finishing an MFA in theatre design at The Ohio State University.  I took a course on Czech Theatre Design and ended up heading out the door to Prague – not for a bead shipping trip as many of my beady friends have done, but on a tour of some of the arts/theatre and cultural aspects of the city.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Part of the requirements of the trip were to keep a journal.  This is the second part of that trip.

The italics are notes that I’ve since added…
———————————
2005 – Saturday, December 10th, morning

I got home from dinner on Friday night and konked out before I could write the next section… So,
*     Evening Orientation Tour By Bus
On the way to dinner , I all but missed the tour; I actually think I fell asleep in the short time it took us to get to the restaurant.  Also, I had no idea how we’d gotten to the place – I’m bad at directions unless I either drive myself or walk them.
*     Welcome Dinner at Novometsky Pivovar
I didn’t think I’d make it through dinner, but I actually woke up enough to have a wonderful time.  Full menu below, just because its my favorite part of those silly food channel shows I’ve been watching.  And because it was wonderful. 
 
Accordion entertainment was a riot. The guy kept playing “Head Shoulders Knees Toes” for Jackie (one of my classmates).
The restaurant is a brewery, and I’d been told that European Beer is different than American so decided to finally try for myself.  Yup, still tasted like beer.  The room we dined in was way underground, all the way in back, through some funny corridors and other dining rooms. I think they probably put us there in case we ended up being obnoxious Americans.  We WERE loud.  Added December 20, 2012 I couldn’t find a photo of the interior room they stuffed us into, but I did find their website.  http://www.npivovar.cz/en/
§         Menu: 
¨       Becherovka (I had mine… and the rest of Dan’s)
      (Becherovka is available for purchase in New Albany Ohio…  I’ll try to recall the name of the place)
¨       Baked Potato in Foil with Garlic
¨       Roast Pork
¨       Smoked Meats
¨       Sausage
¨       Bread and Potato Dumplings (I love the bread ones!)
¨       Steamed Cabbage
¨       Klatchkies
¨       Coffee
¨       Beer (I liked it… but probably won’t have more this trip)
           
So… things I forgot:
– An alarm clock Added December 19, 2012.  This was before I had a cell phone, which is what I now use as my alarm clock.  Thats right – we all had lives before cell phones!  Hard to believe, I know!
2005 Saturday, December 10th, evening
Whoops!  Was writing in the morning after breakfast, so ended up being late to the bus.  Dasha had to call me, and then I ended up running downstairs in wedge-heeled boots.  What was I thinking?  Turned out okay – we weren’t going into the mines of Kutna Hora after all.  At least I remembered to call down to reception and get a wake-up call, otherwise I would have still been completely out.
*    Breakfast
Breakfast was superb. Breakfast= my favorite meal.  I still miss the breakfasts from a little bead and breakfast my parents and I stayed in when we were in Venice when I was I was 14, BTW.  Not to digress or anything (too late), but breakfast in Italy and France is rolls with butter and jam and hot chocolate.  Breakfast here for me is coffee, yogurt with fruit and cereal, and sliced poppy seed rolls. 
I used to get the poppy seed rolls from a bakery in Chicago, but still associate them with my friend Kathy Korbuly, who lived across the street from me in Minneapolis.  Her parents used to make them at the holidays.  They were surgeons who had immigrated from Budapest, Hungary.  I think they used to call the dish Makivnyk or Makovyi Knysh and Dominick, Kathy’s dad would speak at me in Hungarian… as if I understood.  Added December 20, 2012 – what joy!  I’ve found the poppy rolls at Raisin Rack, which is less than a mile from where I live here in Westerville.  
*      Kutna Hora
A jam-packed day.  The drive to Kutna Hora is about an hour long.  I have my regular camera with 200-speed film – might be a problem inside.  I also brought my “photo essay” camera, a little camera given to us by the department.  My essay is about the importance of images of death in art in Europe.  Mainly, I’ve decided to document the 3 graveyards we’re going to during the trip.  Added December 20 2012 – I blame Steve for this.  If he’s reading this, he’ll know why.
Kutna Hora, as a town, is more of those little winding streets I like.  It was developed as a silver and ore mining towns in the 13thcentury.  The mines have since become inactive, but apparently you can still take tours into them.
*      Sedelec Ossuary
 
The ossuary is on the below-ground level of a chapel.  It is well documented by a number of web sites and guide books.  Speaking of guide books, I brought three – maybe overkill?  One site says:
The chapel was built at the end of the 14th century and its current appearance is the result of Baroque reconstruction carried out by Santini-Aichl in the early 18th century. Unique skeletal decorations of the interior are probably the work of woodcarver František Rint. Remarkable masterpieces include a massive chandelier, a cross, chalices, a monstrance or Schwarzenberg coat-of-arms. According to estimates, bones of approximately 40,000 people were used to decorate the chapel, creating this unique ossuary – a reminder of the transience of human life and the inevitability of death.
Another says that the deaths were non-violent.  Meanwhile, we learned in class that the deaths were from the 40-years war and from the Black Plague.  Both seem to be pretty violent ends to any life if you ask me.  I think about the non-violent statement as I consider one of the skulls in a glass case with a hole bashed into the side.  I begin my documentation on the department camera and then wander outside to take a look at some of the cemetery stones.  The one I like the best has a steering wheel attached to it.
Above the ossuary, there’s a little door.  The lady at the front desk of the ossuary allows me to go upstairs and unlock it; she gives me an enormous key.  There’s a window in there overlooking the ossuary, and also a vaulted ceiling area which is as light as the downstairs is dark.  It’s a wonderful dichotomy
*    Bohemian Glass Store
Just outside of the ossuary, there’s a glass shop selling bohemian crystal.  I think I’ll wait to shop until later in the trip, but wonder if its possible to get it home without breakage.  We also stop to purchase Cappuccino, made from a Machine, & paid restrooms.
*     The Italian Court/Museum of Mining
Walking down from the Church to the Museum, I stop to change film and someone or another snaps a photo of me; I like the layers of texture throughout the town – in Prague many of the buildings are renovated enough to not be able to see the bricks underneath.  Added December 20, 2012 – Look at me, all young n stuff!  Matt and Dan are photographing and in sight, but by the time we reach a crossroads, we realize that we’ve been separated from the group.  Whoops!  We discuss that the town isn’t too big, and that its also pretty enough to move here without many regrets, but then find the group again.
The Italian Court has mini doors lining one side of it for the minter’s workshops, and a small museum.  I’m feeling too rushed to photograph at this point, otherwise I’d set up more shots.  A costumed man demos the use of a stamp for making coins.  The private chapel is under reconstruction, but it’s a FABULOUS tour-de-force of art nouveau work.  There is no photography allowed and no postcards in the gift shop.
           
*      Lunch at The Dacicky Restaurant
§         Menu:
¨       Vegetable Soup
¨       Goulash Soup in A Bread Bowl that’s bigger than my head.
¨       Chicken with peach sauce & Potatoes
¨       Coffee
*     Bilek Villa on Way Home
           
Still jetlagged, so I slept much of the way back into Prague….  We stop off at the Frantisĕk Bilek villa on the way back to the hotel, to see his oversized statues, a small statue of Christ that was considered scandalous in its use of found objects ( it uses rope and wire, but its been a long time since I saw this piece and i can’t find my photo and can’t seem to find it online now to show you – I know, not much help, huh?), and his studio.  I like the tiny little museums dotted all over this city. I also like the roughness of the carving of these particular pieces and visceral feeling of his work. It reminds me a little of Rodin, but I enjoy it more.  The museum curator is getting nervous with the amount of people there are. When I point to the keyholes, shaped like bugs, and note them to Miranda she snaps not to touch anything, which I wasn’t. 
*      Temptationby Vaclav Havel at the Estaes Theatre

 
The Estaes Theatre, we’re told, was where Mozart’s Don Giovannipremiered.  The theatre itself a beautiful piece of 1700s architecture, and well restored.  It plays pieces in rotating rep, which interests me since the sets need to be able to be changed in on short schedule.

This particular design does very little for me, though. Programmes here are interesting; they are in addition to the price of admission and this particular one has the full script.   I don’t recall the script well enough to remember details besides the Faustian Theme, so mainly am interested in the acting style, the fantastic work done by Petr Matasek’s son, and am disturbed by the violence onstage between the lovers and in the scenic design.  Upstage, unused by the actors, and completely ignored by them, are museum cases with gun-toting mannequins(not shown in this particular scene). The only female figure in these cases is definitely objectified.  These cases are not in the original scenic sketch.
 
I think that perhaps I’m missing something, so when I get back to the states I do a little more research.  The play was written by former dissident, playwright and President Vaclav Havel shortly after he was released from prison in 1985. Temptation, also called the ‘small Czech Faust’, targets the Communist regime. Havel was essentially a playwright who came out of the Absurdist tradition of the 1960s.  The version we saw was directed by US director Charles Marowitz. I found in interview with him regarding the show online:
He apparently wanted to “transform the black magic and the necromancy into something more pertinent to the present time – which is to say corporations, the conglomerates, the contemporary world.”  I still don’t understand the scenic design.
I also found a later writing by Marowitz regarding the show at:
He writes:
“TEMPTATION deals with a diabolical pact between a subversive scientist and an odoriferous necromancer who turns out to be a government informer. It was gestated during various imprisonments and went through a torturous incubation period. While in prison, instead of being given the usual batch of propagandist Communist literature, Havel had been handed Goethe’s Faust, and then Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus and after that, a battered copy of Marlowe’s Faustus.

 

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