The story of unfulfilled life for which the Czechs are somewhat to blame, on the stage of HaDivadlo in Brno

On the last Sunday in November, HaDivadlo launched a play entitled „Banishment of Gertha Schnirch“, directed by Marián Amsler and, based on a book of the same name by the contemporary Czech author Kateřina Tučková. The play is about the expulsion of the Germans after the signing of the Beneš decrees and Brno death march to Pohořelice where a refugee camp was set up. It was later struck by a cholera outbreak resulting in 453 dead. The play questions the statement „such was the mood“, which the Brno citizens used as an excuse for the ruthless spontaneous expulsion of all German residents in Brno, no matter if they supported Hitler or not.

Gertha Schnirch (portrayed by Lucie Andělová) was born into the wrong time and as she herself says „into the wrong column.“ „Except the few moments with uncle Karel, mom actually wasn’t happy,“ summarised Barbora, her daughter, when Gertha was dying.  Gertha’s life was not fulfilled for many reasons. The biggest share, however, comes from World War II, the expulsion of the Germans, 1968 and the communist regime.

HaDivadlo, again, did not fail with its use of props and the overall theatrical execution. In which other theatre do the actors smoke and fire deafening shots on stage? There is a grand dance party or family dinner and in the next moment comes an electricity black out, air-raid, sorrowful wailing, and then you hear the footsteps of marching Russian soldiers and the rattle of their weaponry. Such contrasts were depicted brilliantly and underline the general melancholic and overwhelming tone. Although the subject is grave, some scenes felt rather grotesque, so, from time to time, a laugh could be heard in the dimmed auditorium.

I am chalking on a column of the theatre (the same way that Gertha and her mother before herwrote the date of their deaths there) that this performance has left me with a bitter feeling for our ancestors from Brno, who were both emotionally and physically exhausted, and perhaps because all foul things come forth, bear the burden of guilt for many an unfulfilled life.

Text vznikl v rámci kurzu Angličtina pro žurnalisty Kabinetu jazykové přípravy.

Foto: Česká televize

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