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Rehearsal for Truth 2019: The Travesty of Truth

  • Bohemian National Hall 321 East 73rd Street New York, NY, 10021 United States (map)

The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival, Central European contemporary theater honoring Vaclav Havel, explores the disappearance of borders between truth and lies. The festival consists of five international performances—three full plays, one dance performance and a behind-the-scene presentation—along with four special events. In total, the activities offer a notable occasion for adventureof the mind and conduits for shared encounters. 

The festival examines different nuances of truth through its third edition, “The Travesty of Truth.” Conceived under the direction of Pavla Niklova, the 2019 Rehearsal for Truth program encourages participants to enter a dialogue on pressing matters that pervade our post-truth era.

The time when boundary is blurred between truth and lie, theater holds the power to re-establish relationships between participants through a common engagement and common experience of truth.
— Pavla Niklova, Director of Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival

While some shows consider the matters of historical memory, cultural traditions or manipulation of facts (Truth (Poland), Audience (Czech Republic), Hungarian Acacia (Hungary)), others delve into the more intimate realm by raising questions of privacy and personal boundaries in relationships (Watch Now (Slovakia), Woman Alone (Romania)).

The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival takes places at the Manhattan’s historic Bohemian National Hall. All shows are featured in their original languages with English supertitles. Each is followed by a talkback with the performers along with an afterparty hosted by the countries’ cultural institutes and consulates general in New York. Special events include a month-long exhibition showcasing Vaclav Havel’s playwright trajectory, a live virtuoso performance by orchestra Gypsy Devils and a vibrant panel discussion. The 2019 Gala celebrates the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution that brought freedom to Central and Eastern European countries. It honors Ambassador Craig Stapleton and Mrs. Dorothy Stapletonand presents the Disturbing the Peace Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk.

All Rehearsal for Truth productions are free to the public except the Gala. Seats are limited, online registration through Eventbrite is required.

For the first time, two plays from the Rehearsal for Truth program will debut at the Jersey City Theater Center. The Slovak dance performance Watch Now will be featured on September 26, followed by the Polish play Truth on September 27. To find out further information, visit In addition, Vaclav Havel’s play Audience will be featured at Davis Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., on October 2, and at Chopin Theatre in Chicago on October 6. 

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Tuesday, September 24, 7:30 pm

WOMAN ALONE / Romania / play, talkback, afterparty

Woman Alone unveils the story of Maria and the elements of her domestic life that entrap her.

Wednesday, September 25, 7:30 pm

WATCH NOW / Slovakia / play, talkback, afterparty

Captivating dance performance that delves into the present-day issues of identity and loss of privacy. Accompanied by live music, Watch Now follows a couple undergoing a difficult time in their relationship.

Saturday, September 28, 6:00 pm

HUNGARIAN ACACIA / Hungary / presentation of performance projects, discussion

Engaging, behind-the-scenes glimpse of Hungarian Acacia and other performance projects conceived to address the public discourse in Hungary in a satirical way.

Saturday, September 28, 7:30 pm

TRUTH / Poland / play, talkback, afterparty

Truth exposes a lack thereof: an existence fraught with the absence of the sacred, devoid of any mystery, purpose or metaphysical worth.

Friday, October 4, 7:30 pm

AUDIENCE / Czech Republic / play, talkback, afterparty

Audience features a meeting between the brewery manager Sladek and employee Vanek. While the manager is clearly opening too many beers and inducing binge drinking, it is less clear what he wants from Vanek. 


Thursday, September 26, 6:00 pm

30 YEARS OF FREEDOM GALA / benefit night

Gala celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution leading to the independence of Czechoslovakia and other Central and Eastern European countries, with guests of honor Ambassador Craig Stapleton and Mrs. Dorothy Stapleton.

Friday, September 27, 7:30 pm

GYPSY DEVILS / concert 

Legendary Slovak orchestra Gypsy Devilsbrings to life original arrangements, combining classical pieces with musical genres such as jazz, ethno, flamenco and Gypsy.

Monday, October 7, 6:00 pm

IN CONVERSATION: HAVEL IN AMERICA / moderated discussion 

Pavla Niklova, Director of Vaclav Havel Library Foundation, has invited participants from the oral history collection Havel Conversations and authors of a new book Havel v Americe (Havel in America) featuring interviews from the project to share their experiences. 

September 5 – October 20


Graphic panel exhibition Vaclav Havel – Citizen and Dramatistshowcases Vaclav Havel’s playwright trajectory through printed stills of his theatrical works from the early 1960s through today, both on Czech and foreign stages, and photographs and documents providing insight into Havel’s life.  


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street (between 2nd & 1st Aves), New York, NY 10021

Subway: Q line - 72nd Street, 6 line – 68th Street Hunter College or 77th Street


Discounted parking of $26 for up to 10 hours for guests of Bohemian National Hall is available at GGMC Parking. Two parking entrances: 307 East 73rd Street and 300 East 74th Street. Present your parking ticket at BNH reception for a validation sticker.


The 2019 Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival is organized by the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation (VHLF) and Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association (BBLA), in partnership with Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and Romanian performing arts organizations and cultural institutes. The series of events highlight Vaclav Havel’s legacy as a playwright through live performances, panel discussions, exhibitions and a ceremony for the Disturbing the Peace Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk. A key objective is to establish exchanges between U.S. and Central European theater professionals. The festival reflects Havel’s contribution to 20th-century theater as well as his belief in the potential of Central European cultural traditions to enrich human existence in the modern age. The program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 

Earlier Event: September 23
5+1 Jana Jarkovska