Audiences for Václav Havel’s Protest will be seeing it underground less than a mile from the White House in a performance space virtually unknown to theatregoers until this week. They will leave the bustle of Dupont Circle, and descend into the formerly abandoned trolley station that is Dupont Underground, entrance at 1500 19th Street NW, next to the Starbucks on the north side of the circle.
Susan Galbraith, Artistic Director of Alliance for New Music-Theatre which has been named the Theatre-In-Residence in Dupont Underground, lives in the Dupont Circle area and has long been interested in the possibilities of the space. “I’m always intrigued by raw space and the acoustics of different spaces,” she says. Her company has three more works planned there in the coming season. “Being given the opportunity to be the Theatre-in-Residence and given the chance to develop four pieces in the next 12 months is exciting.”
It would be difficult to imagine a more appropriate play to open her Underground residency than Havel’s Protest.
“Havel was all about challenging the individual to step up to the plate and stand up to tyranny,” she says. “He was famously involved in resisting the Soviet control of his country. He ended up going to prison for standing up for a punk group and from that point on, his plays were not allowed to be performed publicly.” But they were performed, and become known as “apartment plays,” she says of the Czech writer and political dissident who went on to become the first President of the Czech Republic.
In Protest, Vanek, a recurring character in Havel’s plays, pays a visit to the lavish home of a former colleague, Stanek, who has invited the renowned activist in order to get his help in securing the release of a jailed radical musician, fiancée to his daughter. But there’s an underlying reason for the invitation. Vanek is hoping to get the influential man’s signature in a far-reaching protest.
Andrew Valins, returning for his third production in the Alliance’s multi-year Havel Project, plays Vanek and David Millstone appears as Stanek.
For Protest, in additional to evening performances and weekend matinees, has noon-time shows so that workers in the area taking a lunch break will be able to stop in to catch the 70-minute performance. (Complete schedule including Underground tours is here.)
May 10 – 21, 2017
Details and tickets
“Havel’s voice is needed now more than ever. I am honored to direct this show for this unique and exciting cultural space in Washington’s newest nexus for the arts and cultural diplomacy,” Galbraith says. “It will be exciting to share a conversation with audiences as they respond to Havel’s humorous but telling critique of living under surveillance in a tyrannical society.”
Once Protest closes in DC, the cast leaves for the prestigious Prague Fringe Festival in late May. They are familiar with the festival’s tradition of busking before a performance, having previously performed Havel’s Unveiling, their own music-theatre production based on Havel’s letters – Vanek Unleashed, and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis adapted as a work of music-theatre.
After that, Alliance for New Music-Theatre descends once more to Dupont Underground in October with their long-awaited production of R.U.R.: A Retro-Futurist Cabaret Musical featuring music composed by Maurice Saylor, based on the work of Karel Capek, who coined the word “robot.” Then, as part of the DC Womens’ Voices in Theater Festival next January, Alliance will present Women of Troy/Voices from Afghanistan, a music-theatre adaptation of Euripides ancient play Trojan Women set in modern day Afghanistan as a collaboration with Afghan artists and musicians.
- Susan Galbraith will be well known to readers of DC Theatre Scene as a writer whose reviews include opera and ballet.