Since the end of last year, visitors to the Švandovo Theatre have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of traditional and modern pantomime again after a long time, as Radim Vizváry’s award-winning production Solo has returned.
The work, for which this leading representative of non-verbal theatre won the Thalia Award a few years ago, has lost none of its appeal, as the first sold-out performances indicate. He performs on the Smíchov stage approximately once a month, with the next performances on 18 March and 25 May.
The production with the simple title Solo is not only a showcase of Radim Vizváry’s interpretive mastery. It also introduces the audience to various forms of pantomime from the beginnings of the genre to the present day.
“I created Solo as a walk from romantic pantomime to today, as a kind of encyclopedia of styles, but not with the intention of instructing the audience. I’m trying to show them the richness of pantomime and convey my own love of it. Hopefully, thanks to this production, they can get an idea of what pantomime can encompass today and offer, how far it has moved on from the old picture of a mime in a striped T-shirt pulling an invisible rope,” reflects Radim Vizváry on the production today.
In Solo, the audience encounters a reminiscence of the Czech-born and “greatest of the Pierots” Jean Gaspar Debureau, which still bears the elegant stamp of the Baroque dance form, and an imaginary 20th-century pantomime from the legacy of Marcel Marceau or Ladislav Fialka, while some of the etudes were created under the supervision of Boris Hybner, whose pupil and direct follower Radim Vizváry is.
There are elements of the grotesque and clownery, but also a modern technique of pantomime involving the performer’s entire body, the so-called mime corporeal, as well as inspiration from Japanese butoh dance. Even traditional patterns have been given a modern movement expression in Solo, and with surgical precision Vizváry has been giving the audience deep emotion and unstoppable laughter for six years.
“Pantomime, or mime theatre, can appeal even in the most challenging form, if it is taken up by an artist who believes in his field. Vizváry is undoubtedly the greatest personality of contemporary mime theatre, encompassing both its present and its classical legacy,” wrote theatre scholar Ladislava Petišková about Solo.
Radim Vizváry has performed Solo more than 100 times in dozens of Czech theatres and at many festivals abroad, for example in Israel or as far away as Cape Verde, and he has also presented it at a festival in Japan. At the end of last year, he returned to Švandovo Theatre with his solo work after a hiatus.
In the meantime, he has created a number of other productions, both original projects and directing and choreographing. In his solo projects and in co-productions with various companies, Vizváry is looking for new themes for mime that can reach out and touch contemporary audiences, as well as new ways of combining mime technique with other genres.
He has already successfully managed to combine pantomime with illusionism, new circus and acrobatics, object theatre and last but not least with new technologies and multimedia, as evidenced by his current work as artistic director of Laterna magika ensemble at the National Theatre. He also still teaches mime technique at the Department of Nonverbal Theatre at HAMU, according to his own methodology that he has developed over the years, and is the dramaturge of the Mime Fest and Comedians in the Streets festivals.
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Ten milestones of pantomime served up by leading Czech mime Radim Vizváry. Over the course of 90 minutes, he presents a broad range of styles in the genre from classic pantomime to butoh and physical comedy to contemporary mime theatre. The show is full of tradition, poetry, slapstick, and lyrical extravagance.
You will laugh and cry, all without a single word from Radim – since none are required by his art. His expression is purely physical, organically combining virtuoso movement with convincing acting.
Radim Vizváry’s Solo is a breath-taking spectacle sure to entertain lovers of pantomime as well as those encountering it for the first time.