Democracy Zone Festival

Democracy Zone Festival

October 4 – 6, 2018

Democracy Zone is a project ushering in a new regular series of debates centered around the subject of “Art and Democracy.” Both its name and its focus suggest the project´s loose linkage to our foundation´s by now legendary event organized precisely 27 years ago on the grounds of the defunct Stalin Monument at Letná: a festival of independent culture spread across several days, which included among other features broadcasts of the pirate Radio Stalin station, the precursor of today´s widely popular Radio 1.

The Democracy Zone festival programme will comprise lectures and discussion panels involving artists, writers, politicians and art historians, focusing on issues of the current political developments in the Czech Republic. The individual discussion blocs will be interspersed with theatre and music productions, film projections, and recordings from art performances reflecting both current and historical political issues shaping both the domestic and international scenes. The festival will spotlight the various topics from unorthodox angles of view, thereby enabling visitors to broaden their horizons by a fresh supply of relevant information prior to the upcoming general election in this country.

In the course of the ensuing yearlong series, visitors will be invited to come and see a variety of projects in the fields of theatre and visual art, which have over the last few years made an impact on society, along with the chance to engage in debates about these projects with their makers and with specialists active in these domains.

Democracy Zone is affiliated to Democracy Festival, part of Forum 2000.


Thursday October 4

6:00 PM Sewing the Czech National Flag in a Group with Zašívárna, NoD

Zašívárna is the home of a sewing group producing original patterns by traditional techniques. You are invited to either make your own creations with the use of our styling kits, or have them made by our team of resident seamstress grannies. During the Democracy Zone festival our grannies will be joined by members of the general public in the process of sewing and embroidering a large-format national flag of the Czech Republic. Leftover fabric scraps will be used in the collective making of a specimen of the Czech national flag intended for subsequent display in the interior of the NoD café towards the festival´s end.

7:30 PM Opening Democracy Zone Festival, NoD

8:00 PM Václav Havel: The Power of the Powerless, NoD

This production is not staged inside a theatre but in urban public spaces. Each performance thus brings out a new, original version taking into account the character of a given public space. Moreover, each show uses a new set of previously unseen secondary textual and audiovisual materials focused on the life and work of Václav Havel, set in the context of the venue in question.


Following the publication of Charter 77, Václav Havel is arrested and remanded in custody, thus finding himself in a situation for which, as he himself would later admit, he has not been mentally prepared. Notwithstanding all his efforts to keep fit in mind and body alike (his diary attests to Havel´s spending a good deal of time exercising, learning English, and reading), the conditions of confinement make him increasingly nervous and prone to panic.

He finds his situation as a prisoner baffling, realizing that until now he has obviously failed to give adequate attention to considering the alternative of being deprived of freedom and being held in a detention facility. A critical moment arrives on 6 April, 1977 as, overwhelmed by the psychological stress he reaches a point of offering to the state prosecutor in exchange for his release the pledge of subsequent “decent behaviour.” This instance of personal failure involving the abnegation of the code of beliefs and principles he has previously articulated, untaps in Havel´s conscience a source of new energy which ultimately sparks off a process of deep self-reflection and a thoroughgoing analysis of the phenomenon of dissent, and of his personal state of existential crisis into which he was thrown by the inertia of the political system. He sets out to ponder the choice opportunities remaining to a helpless individual provided they decide to stand up to their condition of enslavement. At the same time, before long he eventually does end up released from custody.

Feeling an urge to redeem himself and straighten up his back once again, to confront the system in a new and better way, Havel takes the text of his contribution to an anticipated Czech-Polish collection as the launching pad for an extensive essay on the options available to the powerless.

Friday October 5

6:00 PM Sewing the Czech National Flag in a Group with Zašívárna, NoD

8:00 PM Jan Strýček et al.: Seven Sugar Cubes, NoD
Drama for two actors on the nature of freedom, courage, and individual responsibility.

When is the ideal time to start defending freedom? And how does one recognize whether they are up to the task? The worst evil, regardless of what year you happen to find yourself in, is the creeping kind, an evil that accumulates slowly and without being noticed, up to a point where we finally realize how lethal it is, by when it is too late to stand up and confront it. A story inspired by the life of political prisoner Josef Černohorský, as well as in fact by our own lives.

Story and set design: Tereza Černá
Stage director: Jan Strýček
Dramaturgy: Tereza Pavelková
Production: Nadan Pojer
Photography: Nadan Pojer
Cast: Vojtěch Hříbek / (alt.) Václav Zimmermann; Marta Sobotková

A production mounted with support from the State Fund for Culture and the Academy of Drama in Prague, under the symbolic auspices of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and Mons. Prof. PhDr. Tomáš Halík, ThD.

Saturday October 6

Music programme at nám. Republiky in the centre of Prague.