Memory of Nation


Jaroslava Šiktancová (1954)

 Jaroslava Šiktancová (1954)
It’s a good thing poems exist

Verdict: expelled from school

“Then after the holidays I was called in to have a talk with Rector Martínek. He didn’t receive me in Lažan, which was where the rector had his office at the time, but in a park by the riverside. He told me the whole matter was terribly uncomfortable to the school, that I was surely capable enough, that he knew I was dating someone and that perhaps the best would be if I got pregnant, or that I should interrupt my studies because of some illness, and if I interrupt the studies, the matter will be resolved. Of course, I didn’t want to accept that. I was in a kind of mood, or everything that went on took on such a course or direction, that such a thing was completely out of the question, so I refused it. Then the disciplinary committee was launched, and it was presided over by the dean of the Theatre Faculty, Eva Šmeralová, an infamously committed citizen. They expelled me for ‘the negative positions which I had taken and which I had upheld’. That was the wording. I remember that the whole time the disciplinary committee was in session, they spoke ‘Ptydepe’ [an allusion to the eponymous, incomprehensible, artificial bureaucratic language from Václav Havel’s play ‘The Memorandum’, somewhat akin to Orwell’s ‘Newspeak’ - trans.]. I don’t remember if they addressed me formally or informally, but I do remember which room we went into, I know that I was shown inside by what was then the promising [Youth] Unionist - or perhaps Party member already - Ondřej Šrámek, I know how they sat there opposite me and said: ‘You know well enough why! You know well enough what this is about! We this and that, and you refused, you won’t hear reason, and so on...’ And the verdict was: expelled from school.”

  • born 2 October 1954 in Prague as the second of two children
  • 1974, graduated from grammar school and began studies of theatre direction at the Theatre Faculty in Prague
  • 1977, signed Charter 77 and was expelled from school a year later
  • 1978-1982, secretly worked with National Theatre director Miroslav Macháček on four theatre productions
  • the regime only permitted her to work in unqualified positions, so she was employed as a cleaning lady, manual labour, a manor-house guide, a gardener, later as a research room administrator and an archivist
  • 1990, allowed to complete her studies at the Theatre Faculty
  • 1990s, attended several professional courses in Great Britain, Germany, and Sweden
  • worked as director at various regional theatres, worked with Kašpar Theatre for several seasons
  • 1993, began teaching at the Theatre Faculty (still teaches there as of 2017)
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