Celebrating the life and art of Václav Havel
New York City, October through December 2006

An actor prepares (Havel)

Trav S.D., actor, describes how it feels to play the part of Machon in Václav Havel’s Guardian Angel, now playing at The Brick in Brooklyn.

Working on Guardian Angel has been a joyous and sometimes frustrating challenge for me. I imagine Mr. Havel would be amused to know the high seriousness with which we took the assignment of interpreting a work I suspect he might consider a “sketch.” But of course, he’s one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, so even one of his sketches is inevitably fraught with meaning. The challenge has been that, as in most of his work, in Guardian Angel that meaning is ambiguous. Trying to sort it all out for ourselves has been like wrestling a greased alligator (yeccchhh, I’m sorry you had to read that). In the end, I think we were able to solve the play in such a way that it makes sense for ourselves while keeping that ambiguity in place for the audience. Some nights we get laughs, which is an appropriate response to the text. Other nights, we get a sort of wary, nervous silence – equally appropriate. As an artist for the stage, that’s always been my favorite kind of chord to strike – that twilight realm between comedy and an unease born out of disorientation. A menace you can never escape walks in your door – as happens inevitably, somehow, to all of us. What is there to do? Giggle? Scream? The question is sadly just as timely now as it was four decades ago. And when you find yourself asking such questions you know that you’ve been exposed to the work of a great playwright, but also such a playwright’s prerequisite – a perceptive and wise person.

Trav S.D.
November, 2006

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