VACLAV HAVEL AT THE DEBATE AT THE ORANGE TREE THEATRE
The 30th anniversary of the petition that gave a voice to opposition in Czechoslovakia
Thu 29 March 2007, 7.45 pm, Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond
Chair: Prof Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford
Speakers: Vaclav Havel, playwright, former President of the Czech Republic, Charter 77
co-founder and spokesman, dissident;
Jiří Dienstbier – Director of Reuters, former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, dissident, former spokesman of Charter 77;
Pavel Landovsky – actor, Charter 77 founding signatory, dissident;
Pavel Seifter – Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the LSE, former Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the UK, former adviser to President Vaclav Havel, Charter 77 signatory;
Zdena Tomin – writer, Charter 77 signatory and spokeswoman, dissident.
Guests of honour: Barbara Day, Sir Anthony Kenny, Sir Tom Stoppard, Jessica Douglas-Home and Prof. Roger Scruton
Vaclav Havel joins the evening celebrating the 30th anniversary of the petition that followed the police clampdown on group The Plastic People of The Universe in 1976 and started a movement representing the leading platform for opposition in Czechoslovakia under the Communist regime. After rather adventurous start in January 1977, the petition called Charter 77 gained international support and many events were held internationally to draw attention to the Chartists and their call for freedom of speech and expression and respect of human rights.
After 30 years, many of those who were personally involved in the events and Charter 77 movement from both Czechoslovakia and the UK are coming back together to meet in a debate chaired by Professor Timothy Garton Ash on the scene of the Orange Tree Theatre. They will look back and share their experience and memories of key events of modern European history as well as discuss legacy of Charter 77 in promoting its values and supporting basic human rights.
The evening will open with a short extract from Vaclav Havel’s play Audience read by Vaclav Havel and Pavel Landovsky as a reminder of its English language premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre in 1977. Sam Walters, founder and artistic director of Orange Tree Theatre, will afterwards introduce distinguished guests and speakers as well as related history of the Orange Tree Theatre.
It was the Orange Tree Theatre where in 1975 – 1980 Vaclav Havel’s plays directed by Sam Walters and adapted by Sir Tom Stoppard were premiered. It was also the Orange Tree Theatre where a number of events organized to support Charter 77 took place and where British intellectuals established strong links with Czechoslovak dissidents.
An accompanying exhibition from the National Museum in Prague, including documentary photographs by Ivan Kyncl, at the theatre foyer will introduce documents and history of Charter 77. On display also rare photographs of Vaclav Havel provided by the Leica Gallery Prague.
Organised by the Czech Centre London and Orange Tree Theatre in collaboration with the Czech Embassy in London. Supported by Charter 77 Foundation and the National Museum in Prague.