Row hits Havel’s return to the stage

Playwright's wife in dispute with National Theater

PRAGUE — Vaclav Havel’s return to the Czech stage is not even firmly calendared but has already run into problems at Prague’s National Theater, with his wife, Dagmar Havlova, announcing she will not play the part he wrote for her.

The 70-year-old former playwright president, who was jailed for his dissident works before the Velvet Revolution of 1989, penned a new drama after leaving office in 2003, “Odchazeni” (“Leaving”), which is all but confirmed for the National Theater, most likely to preem in May.

But following a dispute with the theater’s drama chief, Michal Docekal, the controversial actress has regretfully withdrawn, she announced in the Czech press.

Local tabloids, who have traditionally been unkind to Havel’s wife since their marriage in 1997, implied she had demanded excessive fees, a claim denied by Havlova, who said she would rather work in a “friendly, creative and inspiring atmosphere without tension.”

National Theatre spokesman Tomas Stanek has said the contract for “Leaving” is still not inked, pending Havel’s approval of the staging, and that casting is still ongoing, but hinted that National Theater thesps would be preferred over “guests.”

The 54-year-old Havlova, who is not in the company, has performed at Prague’s Vinohrady Theater for years, most recently in U.S. playwright Israel Horovitz’s “Park Your Car in Harvard Yard (in Czech Moment of the Truth).” She was also a favorite of Slovak filmmaker Juraj Jakubisko before her marriage to Havel.

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