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Photo: Grenzen der Arbeit, Saša Uhlová

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Discussion on 'The Heroes of Capitalist Labor' by Saša Uhlová
Prague City Theatres, Prague/Czech Republic

An event of the transcultural festival POSTWEST

Discourse

Czech with German or English subtitles

With: Michal Hába, Saša Uhlová and Kateřina Smejkalová

Acclaimed Czech journalist Saša Uhlová worked in various jobs—full-time, part-time, and temporary—under an assumed identity. For months, she monitored what wages employees were really receiving and whether the Labor Code was being upheld, exploring what life was like for the people working in the lowest-paid jobs in the Czech Republic. She worked in a hospital laundry room, a chicken processing plant, a supermarket, a razor factory, and a waste management plant.

In his play The Heroes of Capitalist Labor, which is based on Saša Uhlová’s investigative series, Michal Hába and his artistic team focus on the invisible people and jobs that our society overlooks, despite their utmost importance for its functioning. Halfway through the rehearsal process, Michal Hába, Saša Uhlová and Czech political scientist Katerina Smejkalová will discuss the central themes of Saša Uhlová’s book as well as Smejkalová’s list of requirements, “There is no immunity without solidarity,” which she co-formulated during the coronavirus crisis and submitted to the government:

The economy must be there for the people, not the people for the economy. Ecology is the foundation, not a luxury. Not every technological development is progress. “Equal” taxes cause inequality. The state must not be a prison for debtors. Public support for all instead of having to beg for low benefits. Healthcare, education, and culture are the backbone of society. Housing is a right. Arms spending is not an inviolable priority. Power corrupts, power without control restricts freedom. Europe must be cohesive and stand in solidarity without centers or peripheries.

Credits
Video: Barbora Johansson
Realization: Staff and crew of Komedie theatre

Coproduction between Prague City Theatres and Volksbühne Berlin

Funded by Capitol City of Prague
Supported by: Ministry of Culture of Czech Republic, German-Czech Future Fond

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Prague City Theatres are one of Prague’s most significant cultural institutions with a rich history dating back to 1950. Launched in 2018 with a new management headed by Daniel Přibyl as managing director and Michal Dočekal as artistic chief, Prague City Theatres are comprised of three main venues: Rokoko, ABC, and Komedie Theater. In addition to these venues, activities and productions are also held at open-air venues and various other non-theatrical buildings. The aim is to transform Prague City Theatres into a theatre institution with international connections, one that will tackle the deep issues of today and play an active role in the development of Czech and European theater and society.

Michal Hába is a Czech theatre director, working in both independent and state run-theatres. He focuses on political topics, using Brechtian principles. Michal Hába graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (direction) and is the artistic director of Lachende Bestien. Productions include Sezuan based Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller’s Mission, An Enemy of the People based on Henrik Ibsen and Pornogeography by Werner Schwab for which he received the Josef Balvin Award in 2016 (Best German Language Play of the Year).

Saša Uhlová is a Czech journalist. She graduated with a degree in Romani studies from the Department of Philosophy at Charles University in Prague. After her studies she worked as an anthropological field researcher in socially excluded communities. From 2009 to 2016 she was an editor at the online monthly magazine Referendum. In 2011 she worked for ROMEA as an editor of the monthly magazine Romano Vodi. She received recognition at the 2015 Journalist Awards and has been working as an editor for the online journal A2larm since 2017. In the same year she worked for a month at a time in a hospital laundry, a poultry factory, and in a supermarket as a cashier, as well as working on an assembly line and at a waste disposal plant on a weekly basis. She recorded her experiences in the essay The Heroes of Capitalist Labor and in her documentary film The Limits of Work.

Kateřina Smejkalová (born 1986) studied German studies and political science at Ruhr-University Bochum on a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. Since 2014 she has worked as a research assistant at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Prague and as a journalist. Her primary areas of interest are work, the social dimension of technologies, and fundamental political issues.

media

Michal Hába

Impressions of the rehearsals. Photo: Alena Hrbkova

Impressions of the rehearsals. Photo: Alena Hrbkova

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