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Deborah Galyan
Cardinal Stage Company

Ryan Piurek
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, October 9, 2006

IU teams up with Cardinal Stage to present Havel comedy 'Unveiling'

Oct. 9, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A scathingly funny comedy by dissident Czech playwright turned president Václav Havel is the focus of an upcoming campus-community collaboration. On Oct. 19, Indiana University's Office of International Programs and its Russian and East European Institute (REEI) will join forces with Bloomington's Cardinal Stage Company to present Havel's Obie Award-winning comedy Unveiling.

Written in 1975 and translated into English by Jan Novák, Unveiling is a comic portrayal of an upwardly mobile couple that invites their friend Vanêk -- a persecuted writer much like Havel himself -- to a private unveiling of their remodeled home. The evening turns strange, and even stranger (and funnier), as the couple tries to persuade Vanêk to adopt their materialistic lifestyle.

Written during the period of "normalization" and banned in Czechoslovakia for 15 years, Havel's caustic satire of materialism run amuck has proven enormously popular with audiences around the world.

"The play is a powerful tour de force on the topics of dissent in a totalitarian society and the temptations of consumerism that so often outweigh impulses to join oppositional movements," REEI Director Maria Bucur-Deckard explained. "Its message has great pertinence not only for understanding communist societies in the 1970s, but also for considering what dissent and consumerism mean in the United States today."

Featuring local actors Diane Kondrat, Mike Price and Bill Simmons, Unveiling plays the Rose Firebay at the Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut St., on Oct.. 19-21 and 26-28. Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. each night, with 2 p.m. matinees on Oct. 21 and 28.

Immediately after its Bloomington run, Unveiling will travel to New York for a citywide festival in honor of Havel's 70th birthday. Havel will be in residence at Columbia University as theater groups from across the nation gather to stage all of his 18 plays. This unprecedented festival is drawing international attention for its role in presenting the complete works of Havel for the first time ever, including one world premiere, five English language premieres and five additional new translations.

On Oct. 20, REEI will sponsor a teacher-training workshop, "The Playwright Who Would Be President: Václav Havel and the Art of Dissent in Communist Czechoslovakia." The workshop will introduce 25 Indiana teachers of literature, drama, social studies and history to Havel and the history and politics of the time period during which he wrote Unveiling. Three IU Bloomington faculty members will lead the teacher training workshop sessions: Maria Bucur, associate professor of East European history; Jeffrey Holdeman, Slavic language coordinator; and Bronislava Volkova, professor of Slavic languages and literature.

"Bringing the academic and theatre communities together is always a goal for us," Cardinal Stage Company artistic director Randy White said. "Cardinal is very pleased to have a part in offering Indiana teachers an opportunity to explore the history surrounding such a provocative work of art with their IU colleagues. And we are equally pleased that several of our community's most gifted actors will represent Bloomington in New York, performing alongside their equals from theater companies around the country. The Havel Festival is shaping up to be an extraordinary theatrical and political event."

Tickets for Cardinal Stage Company's Unveiling are available online at or by calling 812-336-4564 for reservations. Tickets also are available at Bloomingfoods East.

To register for "The Playwright Who Would Be President" workshop, or for more information, call REEI at 812-855-7309 or e-mail

The Unveiling project is supported in part by a grant from IU Bloomington's Office of International Programs.