MARTIN ČIČVÁK (1975, Košice)

Graduated in 1999 in theatre direction from Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno, in Alojs Hajda’s studio. While still a student, he worked for the Marta Studio where he showed his talent as the director of outstanding productions, such as Baal; The Marriage of Figaro; Frankie is OK, Peggy is Fine and the House Is Cool; or Agent Sonia. During his studies, he participated in the Erasmus exchange programme in the United Kingdom where he directed Jean Genet’s The Maids, August Strindberg’s Miss Julie at Dartington College of Arts, and later his own play Frankie is OK, Peggy is Fine and the House Is Cool at the Grace Theatre in London. When he completed his studies, he started his intense and systematic cooperation with a number of Slovak and Czech theatres (National Theatre Brno, Polárka Theatre in Brno, Drama Club in Prague, Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre, Aréna Theatre). He also collaborated with a few stages in England and Slovenia. Productions directed by Čičvák regularly appear at Slovak and international festivals. He is the laureate of several important awards given out by renowned Slovak, Czech and European critics (Dosky Award, Alfréd Radok Prize, Critic’s Choice of the Time out magazine, among others). In addition to directing drama, he also directs for the opera (J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen) and works as a translator. He is the author of numerous dramatic texts and adaptations for theatre. Čičvák celebrated success with his book Kukura (His Life As Lived by Čičvák) a monograph about Juraj Kukura, the Slovak actor and current director of the Aréna Theatre.

 

Description of his work:

Martin Čičvák is a member of the middle generation of contemporary Slovak directors. Even though he completed his art studies in the Czech Republic, he established himself quickly and strongly also in his home country. Contemporary theatre criticism perceives him as a distinct, specifically pronounced artist who likes to use postmodernist theatre elements in his directorial work. An important source of this artistic attitude can be traced back to his stay at Dartington College of Arts which, from the 1980s, profiled itself as an educational institution focusing on mostly postdramatic and performative tendencies in performing arts. It is very likely that it was at Dartington where Čičvák got acquainted with the artistic style and approach he has been using in his work with Slovak and Czech theatres until today.

Original imagination, resourcefulness, self-standing theatrical feel, impressive visuals in stage and costume design – these are the fundamental attributes of Čičvák’s art, elements he can use to work in the modest conditions of small-space theatres or studios, but also on big stages. In his line of productions, he does not systematically follow any particular playwright, genre or country, but is a director with a very broad range of interest. Martin Čičvák’s list of directed productions includes world classics by Shakespeare, Brecht and Chekhov, absurd drama (Beckett), Feydeau’s comedies, adaptations of world classical novels (Remarque, Dostoyevsky), as well as opera titles by European composers (Bellini, Mozart). The only exception seem to be classical Slovak and Czech playwrights who have not caught Čičvák’s eye as yet. But Čičvák does not avoid classical drama – when producing classical plays he always tries to find parallels with the present times accentuating protuberant domestic and international political issues and seeks solutions for important social and personal issues. Director Martin Čičvák expresses his art in elaborate acting detail and well-constructed actors’ thinking. For him, the most arresting thing in theatre is how exciting an actor’s thinking can be and the existential situation that arises when a person is placed in a paradoxical space. The basis of his productions is the quest for an essential metaphor and paradox which harbour primary suspense.

When working on his productions, Čičvák usually cooperates with his tried-and-true team of creative artists: dramaturg Martin Kubran, stage artist Tom Ciller, and costume designer Marija Havran. Sometimes, he also invites German stage designer Nina A. Stillmark to create stage art for his productions. Čičvák believes that the stage metaphor is created equally by all artists who make the body of every play together – it is a fundamental gesture from which everything else starts.

Martin Čičvák is a flexible director who is used to working in two countries at once. In the course of his relatively short professional theatre career he has created over eighty remarkable productions and written several interesting dramatizations, adaptations and theatre plays. He is the author of numerous excellent and provocative interpretations of classical dramatic texts whose message he communicates clearly and in the spirit of the original text, nonetheless with the added value of presenting a current topic. His most successful play Frankie is OK, Peggy is Fine and the House Is Cool was staged in theatres in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Latvia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

 

List of directed productions:

1996 / Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, Brno, Czech Republic / Molière: Tartuffe

1996 / Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, Brno, Czech Republic / Bertolt Brecht: Baal

1996 / Dartington College of Arts, United Kingdom / Jean Genet: The Maids

1997 / Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, Brno, Czech Republic / Martin Čičvák: Agent Sonia

1997 / Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, Brno, Czech Republic / Pierre Beaumarchais, Martin Čičvák: The Marriage of Figaro

1997 / East Slovak State Theatre, Košice / Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot

1998 / Grace Theatre, London, United Kingdom / Martin Čičvák: Frankie Is OK, Peggy Is Fine and the House Is Cool

1998 / Seven and a Half Theatre in Brno, Czech Republic / Botho Strauss: Ten Rooms

1998 / Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, Brno, Czech Republic / Gertrude Stein: The Mother of Us All

1998 / East Slovak State Theatre, Košice / Thomas Bernhard: Histrionics

1999 / State Theatre Košice / William Shakespeare: Richard III

1999 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Thomas Bernhard: Immanuel Kant

1999 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / David Smečka: Beloved Beauty and Kashchey the Immortal

2000 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Georg Büchner: Woyzeck

2000 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Hans Christian Andersen, David Smečka: The Snow Queen

2000 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

2000 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech republic / Láry Kolář, Jozef Gombár, Tomáš Sagher: Hugo Karas

2000 / Slovak National Uprising Theatre, Martin / Bertolt Brecht: The Good Person of Szechwan

2001 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Martin Čičvák: Three Little Pigs

2001 / J. K. Tyl Theatre Pilsen, Czech Republic / Vincenzo Bellini: Juliet (Capulets and Montagues)

2001 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Aleksander Sukhovo-Kobylin: The Trial

2001 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Botho Strauss: Ithaca

2001 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Hans Christian Andersen, David Smečka: The Steadfast Tin Soldier

2001 / Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, Brno, Czech Republic / Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, Jiří Starý, Martin Čičvák: Onegin – Pushkin’s Fragments

2002 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Jana Bodnárová: Saturday Night

2002 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Martin Čičvák: Frankie Is OK, Peggy Is Fine and the House Is Cool

2002 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Franz Kafka, Martin Čičvák, Martin Kubran: The Castle

2002 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Karel Konrád: Epistles for Shy Lovers

2002 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, Jiří Starý, Martin Čičvák: Onegin – Pushkin’s Fragments

2002 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Molière: The Misanthrope

2002 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Lewis Carroll, Miroslav Oščatka: Alice 01 (in Wonderland and Behind the Looking Glass)

2002 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Lewis Carroll, Dora Viceníková, Tom Ciller, Miroslav Oščatka: Alice 001 (Appendices to Carroll in Alice’s Words)

2002 / Polárka Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / David Smečka, Martin Čičvák: Heroin

2003 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Carlo Goldoni, Martin Čičvák: Women’s Gossip

2003 / J. K. Tyl Theatre Pilsen, Czech Republic / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Abduction from the Seraglio

2003 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Jon Fosse: The Name. Night Sings Its Songs.

2003 / National Theatre Prague, Czech Republic / Bertolt Brecht: The Good Person of Szechwan

2003 / City Theatre Zlín, Czech Republic / Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, Jiří Starý, Martin Čičvák: Onegin – Pushkin’s Fragments

2004 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Roland Schimmelpfennig: Arabian Night

2004 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: Emilia Galotti

2004 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava and Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Edward Albee: The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

2004 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Igor Bauersima, Réjane Desvignes: Tattoo

2005 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Georges Feydeau: A Fitting Confusion

2005 / National Theatre Prague, Czech Republic / Martin Čičvák: A Thousand and One Night (Stories from Sand)

2006 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Thomas Vinterberg, Bo Hansen: Festen

2006 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Molière: Amphitryon

2006 / Aréna Theatre , Bratislava / Thomas Vinterberg, Bo Hr. Hansen: Festen

2006 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Viliam Klimáček: Dr. Gustáv Husák

2006 / Slovenian National Theatre Drama, Ljubljana, Slovenia / Roland Schimmelpfennig: The Woman Before

2007 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Sophocles: Antigone

2007 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Anton Pavlovich Chekhov: Ivanov

2007 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Friedrich Schiller: Intrigue and Love

2008 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Erich Maria Remarque, Martin Čičvák: Three Comrades

2008 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Georg Büchner: Leonce and Lena

2008 / City Theatre Žilina / Jess Borgeson, Adam Long, Daniel Singer: Compleat Shakespeare in 120 Minutes

2008 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Viliam Klimáček: Communism

2009 / City Theatre Žilina / Peter Lomnický, Martin Čičvák: Slovak Classics in 120 Minutes

2009 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Marina Carr: By the Bog of Cats

2009 / National Theatre Prague, Czech Republic / William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

2009 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Bertolt Brecht: Mother Courage and Her Children

2010 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust I, II

2010 / National Theatre Prague, Czech Republic / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte

2010 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Felix Mitterer: My Monster

2010 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Joseph Kesselring: Arsenic and Old Lace

2011 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Moisés Kaufman: 33 Variations

2011 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / David Mamet: November

2011 / National Theatre Prague, Czech Republic / William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew

2011 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Martin Čičvák: Kukura

2012 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Nina Mitrovic: This Bed Is Too Short or Just Fragments

2012 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / Aristophanes: The Clouds

2012 / Drama Department of the Slovak National Theatre / George Tabori: Mother’s Courage

2013 / Theatre in Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic / Max Frisch: Andorra

2013 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Joe Orton: What the Butler Saw

2013 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Jonathan Larson: Rent

2014 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Sophocles, Roman Sikora: Lysistrata / Aiás

2014 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Peter Lomnický: Capital

2014 / Theatre in Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic / Peter Schaffer: Amadeus

2015 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Evald Schorm: The Brothers Karamazov

2015 / National Theatre Prague, Czech Republic / Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth

2015 / Theatre in Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic / Albert Camus: Caligula

2015 / National Theatre Brno, Czech Republic / Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Roman Sikora, Martin Čičvák: Demons

2015 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Marek Maďarič: The Lady Without Camellias

2016 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Frank Wedekind: Lulu

2016 / Drama Club Prague, Czech Republic / Martin Čičvák: An Urn on an Empty Stage

2016 / J. K. Tyl Theatre Pilsen, Czech Republic / Moliere: Don Juan

2017 / Theatre in Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic / Henrik Ibsen: Peer Gynt

2017 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie

2017 / Aréna Theatre, Bratislava / William Shakespeare: Richard III.

 

Awards:

1996 / Critics’ Prize at the Theatre Festival in Edinburgh for The Maids

1998 / Critic’s Choice Award of the Time out magazine for Frankie Is OK, Peggy Is Fine and The House Is Cool

1999 / Alfréd Radok Prize in the Talent of the Year 1999 category for the production Immanuel Kant

2004 / Dosky Award in three categories: Best Production of the Season, Best Direction of the Season and Season’s Best Stage Design for Arabian Night

 

Videos from productions:

 

Faust I, II, 2010

video: archive SND

The Clouds, 2012

video: archive SND

Capital, 2014

video: archive Divadlo Aréna, Bratislava

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