UT to Present A Center That Holds Oct. 18–19

New play explores the prison letters of Václav Havel

Published: Oct 8, 2013
After successful performances at Studio 620 in St. Petersburg in August, Frank Gillen, recently retired professor of English, will bring his new play, A Center That Holds, to The University of Tampa Oct. 18–19. Both performances are free and open to the public and begin at 8 p.m. in Reeves Theatre on the second floor of the Vaughn Center on the UT campus.

The play is inspired by the prison letters that Czech dissident Václav Havel — the architect of the 1989 Velvet Revolution — wrote to his wife, Olga. While we now know Havel as the leader of the bloodless revolution that brought down the communist/socialist state and as the first president of a free and democratic Czechoslovakia and, later, the Czech Republic, such success seemed anything but likely when he was sentenced in 1979 to more than four years in prison for “subversive activities hostile to the state.”

His underground essays spoke instead of the power of the powerless and asserted that, in the struggle for freedom, an individual must act in the present not in the certainty of success, but because it is the right thing to do regardless of the outcome. It is on this period — when happy outcomes for Havel and Czechoslovakia were still very much a question — that the play focuses.

A Center That Holds is directed by Bob Gonzalez, assistant professor of speech and theatre, and features Ned Averill-Snell as Havel, Rosemary Orlando as Olga and Aileen Suseck and Gonzalez as censors. There will be a playwright and cast talkback after each show and a reception after Friday’s performance.

The play is part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival sponsored by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C., along with the University’s production of Havel’s Temptation, which runs Oct. 10–13. For more information, contact Gillen at fgillen473@aol.com.