Several young people in Prague formed an amateur theatre group called Household Goods (″Domácí potřeby″), which performs satirical plays in protest against Czech politicians. They disagree with president Miloš Zeman and some government ministers on a number of issues. The first performance, on 28th October, was called I Will Honour Myself (″Sám se vyznamenám″). On 17th November, in another performance, Flash Mop, the students reminded the president that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Household Goods was formed five days before their first performance in October at Prague Castle, in which members of the group glued medals to their naked chests. This was in protest at Milos Zeman’s refusal to honour holocaust survivor, Jiri Brady with a state medal, allegedly because his nephew had met with the Dalai Lama.
″We are basically several friends gathered around slam poetry or amateur theatre. Household Goods also drew inspiration from two other groups. We, however, use different topics and a different form of expression,″ said the troupe’s spokesman, Václav Šindelář.
The main goal is to find different ways to express dissatisfaction with state and presidential politics. ″More demanding and more metaphorical than just making a poster or a banner and going with it to a demonstration in bigger or smaller groups of people,″ the spokesman added.
The core of the team is made up of about seven people, who also performed in the I Will Honour Myself protest. ″When we did the second performance, we appealed to people in a private way, I mean through our friends and their friends, to achieve the biggest number of performers possible,″ explained Václav Šindelář.
The topic of the Flash Mop performance arose two days after I Will Honour Myself at Prague Castle. ″The preparation was easier in the stage props arranging. The main thing was to involve as many cleaning ladies as possible. We also could not spread our challenge in front of the presidential residence in public, because we were gathering an unauthorised event,″ said Šindelář.
They eventually put the event together after three weeks, mostly via socialnetworks and personal invitations. Everyone had to prepare their cleaning props by themselves. A group of 31 young people was sweeping and mopping in front of the presidential doorstep at the Lumbeho Residence.
The whole performance was intended to expose the vast shortcomings of the Czech presidential office, for example the absence of a security check at Chancellor Mynář’s office, disrespect for the court ruling in the case of Peroutka’s alleged article ″Hitler is a Gentleman″.
″If our president happily and frequently criticises people and institutions, he should first of all realise that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. So we have reacted in a creative way as we did on 17th November, when we swept up in front of his house,″ said Household Goods‘ spokesman.
Month before these two performances, three members of the group had organised a public event in response to Andrej Babis’s comparison of the concentration camp in Lety, near Pisek with normal village.
As Vaclav explained, ″We just drew a motto: ″Babiš is a smart alec″ on cardboard and we sat in Malostranské Square and waited to see what would happen. Surprisingly, the people who were walking by and passing by in trams responded enthusiastically. They waved at us, gave us a thumbs up and wanted to take a photo with us. Suddenly we got this unique perspective, which we wanted to repeat.″
The reactions to Household Goods performances are mostly positive. ″We get feedback in most cases through the internet which is where the presidential press agent learned of us. Jiří Ovčáček labelled Flash Mop as pseudo-intellectually ignorant. As a spokesperson of our group, I strongly hope that my colleagues and I will soon be pseudo-intellectually ignorant again,″ remarked Václav Šindelář.
Text vznikl v rámci kurzu Angličtina pro žurnalisty Kabinetu jazykové přípravy.
Foto credit: Václav Šindelář