When the theatre was under reconstruction and performances were put on in Prague Congress Centre, public attendance fell. What is the attendance rate now compared with the pre-reconstruction period?
Attendance rates, or rather box-office takings, which is a figure of greater representative value, have risen by about 300% compared to 2002 when the theatre was still in the historical building in Karlín before reconstruction.
It’s a minor detail, but very significant for a lot of people, that the theatre has excellent access for disabled people and visibility for wheelchair users is very good. How do you make the most of a facility so unusual in Prague theatres? Was disabled access a condition during reconstruction?
Yes, disabled access was a stipulated condition during reconstruction and considerable use is made of it.
The repertoire includes two operettas, in your own words there is less interest in them. Do you think that this genre is outdated, or is the lack of public interest due to other factors, such as less involvement (or an absence) of big pop stars, or a certain archaic style of the plot?
I wouldn’t like to say that a genre is outdated. On the other hand, it is a fact that good quality operettas don’t appear nowadays, bar a few exceptions, and endless repetition of several classic operettas won’t attract big audiences. Furthermore, it’s unfortunately a genre which just doesn’t attract young people.
Will you extend the repertoire with other operettas, or replace one of them with something else?
That decision will be made exclusively on the basis of public interest.
You are preparing Aida, applications for the audition are complete, what interest did you get from performers?
We had 450 applications, which is unprecedented interest.
You’re putting on one play, but you have said that plays belong in Karlín. Do you plan to add more plays to the repertoire, can you say which ones, or which direction you want to take?
I don’t know where you got your information that I said that plays belong in Karlín. On the contrary, I must admit that it’s a bit of an experiment. We’ll consider further steps when we have enough information, and we need more time for that. It would be premature to make a decision after 14 performances.
One personal question. You live in Jesenice, where you are Deputy Mayor. Is your interest in public life compatible with work in the theatre, in terms of time among other things? Is it at all possible to keep your private life separate from public work and from theatre work?
I have to make one thing clear. The town hall is run by the Mayor along with one Deputy Mayor and one Councillor, who take leave from their regular work to fulfil their roles. Just like another four councillors, I am not entitled to take leave. In practice this means that I do the work relating to this function in my free time, which I’m very short of. As for your question about whether it’s possible to separate the theatre from the town hall and from private life? If you think that I make political speeches in the theatre, or I confuse the town hall with my living room? Well, so far, thank goodness, I haven’t done that, so the answer is – yes, it’s possible.