Czech Embassy

Posted: 5/10/2006 6:21:37 PM

From: washingtondc metro area

Joined: 2/8/2006

a friend forwarded this to me:

Dear Friends of Czech Culture:

On May 17, 2006, the Embassy of the Czech Republic welcomes Czech playwright Petr Zelenka in collaboration with Scena Theatre to present a staged reading of his new play Theremin directed by Robert McNamara at 7:30 pm.

Petr Zelenka’s Theremin is based on the real life of Leon Sergeievich Theremin, an inventor, musician, and a spy. He invented the “therminvox” which to this day is the only non-contact musical instrument in the world. A performer on the “therminvox” controls the pitch of the tone by shifting the distance of his or her right hand while controlling the volume through the same with his or her left hand in relation to the transmitter.

In the play, Russian-born Theremin takes his invention along with the world’s first electronic music band to America. The group establishes a number of small corporations and works towards making the thereminvox all the rave in America. The idea of “new music” catches the imagination of some of the most influential Americans in the 1920s. The rapid rise of radio as a new medium accelerates its reach, and Theremin himself becomes a darling of both men and women. Consequently, the Great Depression hits putting an end to Theremin’s bold visions.

Theremin’s problems start to surmount: the Russian secret service demands more information about the American industry, the American Immigration Service wants to deport him, and his debts skyrocket. Three women play a role in his personal life – his Russian wife Katherine, Lucy the wife of a millionaire who dreams to elope with Theremin, and Lavinia Williams, a twenty years his junior African American who he desires to marry.

For questions, please call 202/274-9105. To make a reservation, please call 202/274-9100 x. 3413. A reception will follow the staged reading. Suggested donation: $10.

Award-Winning Playwright Brings New Play to DC
Scena Theatre to Present Staged Reading of Theremin

Ultimately, the play is the story of a man caught in the torrents of 20th century history, unable to be free in his calling, his actions, and his wants. It is a story of an inventor, who was forced to become a musician because he invented a musical instrument, which eventually took over his life. It was because of his invention that Theremin had to mount the world stages and that he became an international star, the object of admiration of women, and finally a gigolo. On some level he didn’t have a chance to alter the course of events. His invention changed and took over his life. In the story, the thereminvox starts off as a musical instrument, later it turns into an alarm system, only to finally transform into a listening device, which, on Stalin’s orders, Theremin himself may have used to secretly tap into Lenin’s personal conversations in the last two years of Lenin’s life.

The play was premiered in Dejvicke divadlo (Dejvice Theatre) in Prague on November 17, 2005. It has already been translated into American and British English and Russian. The Polish and German translations are being completed.

Petr Zelenka graduated in scriptwriting and dramaturgy from the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague. He made his debut as a director in 1993 with a film about punks, Visaci zamek. In 1997, he premiered his most highly awarded film, the episodic film Buttoners, which won the prestigious Czech Lions for best script, direction and film. Additionally, the popular film Loners (2000) was based on Zelenka’s script. For his recent films, Year of the Devil (2003) and Tales of Common Insanity (2005), he was awarded with main prizes at the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary. He made his debut in the theatre with translations of plays by Michael Frayn. He presented himself as an author and, for the first time, theatre director
Posted: 5/15/2006 4:05:47 PM

From: washingtondc metro area

Joined: 2/8/2006

Art Harrison (Art's Theremin Page) and I will be participating in the program. Art will be using theremins of his own design and i will be using the Etherwave.

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