The main character in the novel National Avenue (Národní třída), nicknamed Vandam, is an ageing pub brawler whose life is reduced to false mantras and empty rituals. He likes to lecture others, particularly about things he himself does not know much about. He is a prisoner of numerous stereotypes inherited from his own family. If he wants to escape from this form of captivity, he betrays both others and himself. However, author Jaroslav Rudiš is merciful to him and shows some understanding for his failure. Although National Avenue is a thoroughly dark and hopeless novella, at heart it is true, serious and topical.
“Vandam is a very ambivalent character and that’s what interested me. The whole text is very topical. Growing nationalism isn’t just a Czech phenomenon,” said Theresa Welge, the Czech-German director of the Bremen production. The play will also be performed at the Dresden State Theatre. The German edition of the novel, translated by Eva Profousová, was published last year to critical acclaim. Deutschlandfunk radio described it as “unrestrained, funny, brash, melancholic and brutal” and n-tv called it “brilliant”.
Rudiš’s popular novel will also be adapted into a Czech feature film directed by Štěpán Altrichter. It is set to begin filming this year.