The Battle of Hernani / Victor Hugo & others

In a revolution even counteraction is a step forward

The production departs from and revolves around a real theatrical furore that took place in France in 1830, known as the revolutionary “Battle of Hernani”. By referring to it, by varying the many ways of grasping Hugo’s original text and by offering a peek behind the scenes of the rehearsal process, Jiří Havelka ushers the entire issue into the present. This is all done in an original, entertaining and playful manner, spiced with a measured degree of acting overstatement, it opens up a key question aimed at the essence and meaning of theatrical creation, which is gradually enhanced by a concise passage in the play involving a discussion with the audience. The vantage point of a generational clash is underscored by the refreshing idea of casting students from the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre at the Academy of Performing Arts along with regular members of the Dejvice Theatre cast.

Helena Grégrová,


The famous “Battle of Hernani”, or the dispute between the classicists and the proponents of Romanticism, which raged around the time Victor Hugo’s play Hernani premiered in 1830, was probably one of the first culture wars. This, in all likelihood, is also the basic premise of Jiří Havelka’s production of the same name at the Dejvice Theatre. Seeking out parallels with contemporary culture wars, he confronts four actors from the Dejvice Theatre (Myšička, Krobotová, Polívka, Formanová) with six students from the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. There is no fundamental clash, instead what comes to the fore, is a certain generational and gender discord, as well as a conflict between the established practice of the aging classics and a youthful desire for change. All of this is set against the backdrop of highly entertaining snippets from Hernani, differentiated from one another by means of changes in the casting of roles, and the manner in which rehearsal discussions develop. The production is not a proclamation, neither side is deemed to be the sole bearers of truth, though, personally, I think that the final scene, which is the finale of Hugo’s drama played without any use of parody, is more indicative of the view that good theatre ought to be effective, compelling, revolutionary and emotive without having to make any of this seem deliberate or intentional.

Jakub Škorpil,