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Vaclav Havel's Unveiling and the Art of Dissent in Communist Czechoslovakia

Vaclav HavelFriday, October 20, 2006
3:30 p.m. Workshop; 7:30 p.m. Play
John Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut
Bloomington, IN 47404

Indiana University is pleased to offer a teacher-training workshop in conjunction with a production of Vaclav Havel’s satirical comedy Unveiling (in English translation) by the Cardinal Stage Company, Bloomington, Indiana. The workshop will introduce 25 Indiana literature, drama, social studies, and history teachers to dissident Czech playwright Vaclav Havel and to the history of the time period in which this play is set. The workshop is scheduled for 2.5 hours on Friday afternoon, October 20th.  Following the workshop the teachers attend the play free of charge and have the opportunity to ask questions of the director, dramaturg and cast.

Background on the Play
By the mid-1970's, the Czechoslovakian policy of "normalization" had managed to eradicate the liberal advances of the 1960's and Vaclav Havel himself was banned from theatres. Havel wrote three enormously popular short plays in this period that featured a dissident character named Vanek--a persecuted writer like Havel himself--interacting with regular people from various walks of life. Written in 1975, Unveiling is Havel’s savagely comic portrayal of an upwardly mobile couple who invite their friend Vanek to a private unveiling of their remodeled home. The evening turns strange and then stranger (and funnier) as the desperate couple tries to persuade Vanek to adopt their materialistic approach to life. Banned in Czechoslovakia for 15 years, Havel’s Obie-winning comedy proved popular with audiences around the world.

czech mapThree IU faculty members will lead the teacher training workshop sessions:

  1. Maria Bucur, Associate Professor of East European History, will give a broad historic introduction to the Central European region under communism.
  2. Bronislava Volkova, Professor of Czech Literature, will discuss Havel’s place in Czech literature and introduce this play in the context of Czechoslovakia in the 1970s.
  3. Jeffrey Holdeman, Slavic Language Coordinator, will moderate discussion of the presentations by the two faculty speakers and will play guitar and sing two Czech songs by an exile bard songwriter of the period as a break between talks.

The post-production question and answer session will be moderated by the three faculty members and Randy White of the Cardinal Stage Company.

This workshop is free; attendance will be limited to the first twenty-five teachers who pre-register. All participants will receive a ticket to the play, a copy of the paperback book Garden Party and Other Plays by Vaclav Havel, and a packet of teaching materials (print and CD). Teachers have the option of enrolling in one credit hour of continuing education course work for attendance at the workshop and completion of a follow-up curriculum project.

Please feel free to invite family and friends to the play for an entertaining evening out in Bloomington. For general ticket information, please call (812) 336-4564 or visit

To register or for more information, please call the Russian & East European Institute, (812) 855-7309, or e-mail

Suggested Links: includes glossary, timeline, bibliography of the playwright, photo galleries, and interviews. includes information on Havel’s political, artistic, and personal life.  includes maps, basic country facts, historical background, a short language section, and general cultural information, such as customs, holidays, cuisine, and music. includes links to a variety of websites regarding the land, history and government, cultural life, economy, and general information on the Czech Republic. includes encyclopedic and statistical information on Czech geography, people, economy, communication, transportation, military, and transnational issues. It also provides a link to several reference maps. includes several links which consist of: Czech Happenings (daily news site), the official Czech Republic website, the CIA World Factbook, a travel information site, an English-Czech online dictionary, and a Czech history website.