Hana Kvapilová in the role of Ophelia (W. Shakespeare: Hamlet, National Theatre in Prague)

The tension between the artist and the civilian is most heightened in the realm of acting. An actor transforms into a character and, through their performance, directly embodies the dramatic idea, thus enabling it to manifest. Among the Czech actresses of the turn of the 19th and 20th century, Hana Kvapilová, famous for her sophisticated and modern acting style, managed this more successfully than others. In fact, her case introduces complexity to the ostensibly clear demarcation between mask and face. After she died, her husband Jaroslav Kvapil attested that her theatrical craft and her life constituted a unity, that her life was a work of art – a reflection of how she perceived the world and engaged with people.

Theatre director, playwright and poet Jaroslav Kvapil regarded his wife as one of those souls “capable of transforming everything they touch into a beautiful rhythm of artistic values”. Such souls perceive the world fully, not just through the poet’s words on the stage, but also as they move through life, seeing everything clearly and shining brightly. So it is natural that we are unsure who it is we see in these photographs. Is it Ibsen’s Ellida, or is it Hana herself, playing this role in which she “fell in love with the sea, the endless, mysterious sea”? By singling out this role as the pinnacle of his wife’s oeuvre, he seems to have confounded the two women: “At that point, she was already gazing into infinity, into which she herself departed so soon after.”

Subject: Others , Highlights, Guide for children
Title: Hana Kvapilová in the role of Ophelia (W. Shakespeare: Hamlet, National Theatre in Prague)
Date: after 1905
Origin: Hana Kvapilová Collection
Licence: Free license

Other exhibits from the chapter

This website uses cookies.

We use cookies to personalize content and ads, provide social media features and analyze our traffic. We also share information about the use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. They may use the data together with other information they collect about you while using their services.

Deny all
Show details
Allow all