In 1969, Czechoslovakia seemed well on its way to Western liberalism. There was music in the streets, dissent in the newspapers and even a hint of independence in the air. Then the tanks came, and, with Soviet backing, a regime as fierce as anything behind the Iron Curtain clamped down on the budding freedom. They called it the "Normalization". Intellectuals, in particular, were singled out for persecution. Many fled, but a few brave souls stayed and fought from within, among them a playwright named Pavel Kohout.
Stoppard, himself born Czech, has written a tribute to Kohout. In it, we watch Kohout's underground group, the "Living Room Theatre", present a masterful abridgement of Macbeth with such props and costumes as they can cram into a suitcase. The choice of play is no accident. Marx had prophesized that the natural evolution of society would lead through bourgeois capitalism to a dictatorship of the proletariat and then to pure, stateless, communism. Lenin thought that this evolution could be short-cut, and so in 1917 killed a King (actually a Tsar) and seized power ostensibly in the name of the people. In the wake of his bloody act arose, by the time of Stalin, a state whose brutality has had few rivals in History.
We invite you to join us in the dissidents' apartment. Mind your step, and watch your language.
You may read the press-release or return to the interactive poster.