Prague’s Handa Gote Research & Development
collective makes wonderful living theatre out of the humblest material and tales from life. This time, the story could also be true. It’s the story of Veronika Švábová’s family, but through this one family a whole country’s 20th century will unfold before us.
Old photographs, letters, notes, artefacts, a house and an old recipe are the pieces that together make up this strange memory jigsaw. As her ancestors help found the Czech Communist Party, travel to post-revolutionary Russia, meet Lenin, get interned in concentration camps, are executed as traitors or manage to survive in post-war Prague, a young girl from our present reassembles the material of memory as she sets about defining her identity.
Video screenings, loud hailers and mementos give the production a uniquely hand-made aesthetic, while its visual environment is enhanced by analogue and digital media. Deep down, underpinning the production, a young woman’s unanswered questions glisten and catch the light: What survives of memories and how? When we recollect a story, which parts are memory and which construction? Which of a family’s memories are inscribed on the body? Is blood still thicker than water in our day and age? Can we learn from our mistakes or the mistakes of the generations that have gone before us? Can our mistakes define us for a lifetime? And, when you get down to it, does anyone know how to make a traditional Mraky sweet any more?