At the heart of the musical performance “Gramophone” lies the true story of the relationship between a prisoner in a Jewish concentration camp and a Nazi prison guard. Theme of the play is the spiritual life of a person, a person’s inner strength and the choice which exists even in the most unbearable and degrading conditions of misery and physical incarceration.
The writers of the play were inspired by Viktor Emil Frankl, a prominent psychiatrist and founds of existential analysis and logotherapy. He himself was incarcerated in concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The cruelty that he experienced served as evidence of his hypothesis that the main need a person has for survival is the existence of a specific goal, i.e. “something to live for”. Frankl himself, in moments of the greatest despair in a concentration camp, imagined himself lecturing students at the University of Vienna, telling them about everything that he had seen and experienced. His suffering thus gained meaning and a specific goal – to survive in order to convey his experience. Even in the most extreme situation, a person remains internally free and has an opportunity of making spiritual choices. One’s family can be taken away, as well as one’s house, friends, property, food, books and even one’s name, but you can never take away a person’s freedom to think, dream, and crave love. The heroine in “Gramophone” is transported by her thoughts into her own world, imagining how she is telling a fairy tale to her child with whom she had to part, and thereby teaches him Jewish literacy. Through the power of imagination, the camp loudspeaker turns into a good old gramophone, in which the Alef Beis family of Yiddish letters lives, and the other prisoners and the convoy of the concentration camp ‘jungle’ are transformed into the sweet inhabitants of a wild jungle, where everyone behaves humanely. The prisoners, whom the reality of the camp left only a number, acquire letters, names, and dreams which come true in this fairy tale. The performance carries a message of the freedom of human mind, humanity, and the power of the book in Jewish and universal destiny.
The songs are performed in Yiddish and are accompanied by a live ensemble Translations of the play are woven into the action of the performance and running as subtitles.
Music: Evgeny Kissin
Script: Marianna Arzumanova, Igor Šebo, Eliška Nezvalová
Direction: Marianna Arzumanova
Libretto: Boris Sandler
Sound and light engineer: Michal Matola, Jaroslav Tůma
Scenography: Marianna Arzumanova, Danya Baryshnikov
Scene manufacturing: Tatiana Iribis, Gabriela Jirásková, Roza Rubinová
Costumes designe: Jana Chamlarová, Marianna Arzumanová
Music tutoring: Evgeny Sharogradskiy
Musicians: Evgeny Scharogradskiy (piano), Michal Kostiuk (clarinet), Alexey Aslamas / Martin Dostál (violin)
Cast: Petr Kolman, Ondřej Král, Štefan Radačovský, Jiří Krejčí, Ondřej Kavan, Eliška Nezvalová, Lenka Šťastná, Ondřej Kohoutek, Jiří Valeš, Janusz Hummel, Pavlína Kročová, Soňa Beaumont, Tereza Slánská, Johana Kyselková, Ernest Alner
Sound recording: Igor Šebo, Eliška Nezvalová
Light design: Michal Matola
Sound mixing and mastering: Jaroslav Tůma
Graphic design: Danya Baryshnikov, Šimon Bárta
Production: Marianna Arzumanova, Jiří Valeš