Two days after the performances of the play “1904”, which were shown on the 4th and 6th of April, I met with the producer/director Jonas Hellbrandt to talk about his section of the play, titled “Kafka”. This 40-minute play was based on Franz Kafka’s first ever short story, “Description of a Struggle”, written in 1904 when he was still a law student in Prague. Most of the play was done in the style of the Black Light Theatres of Prague.
I asked Jonas: “What inspired you to get involved with this play?”
He answered: “It was a year ago that Russ (Pooler, the writer of “1904”) first mentioned the idea of using black light in a Newton Dee production. I found this rather exciting at the time, as I had always been interested in black light and the possibilities of using it to stage something here.”
He continued: “Then nine months later, and bingo, Russ put the question to me – He was thinking of putting on three short plays from his longer work “1904” and would like to do the Kafka section in black light. I couldn’t resist and said Yes on the spot!”
Jonas told me it was hard work for the backstage crew, who all had to wear tight, black, one-piece suits to manipulate all the props that float around on the blacked-out stage. It took a while to get used to this, but they all enjoyed it in the end. And constructing and painting the many strange objects, from trees and squirrels to the sun and moon, was a fascinating experience.
Luckily, the whole production was well received at both performances, and many people commented on the ingenuity and imagination of the Kafka section particularly.
He would even like to do some more black light work in the future!