“Miriam Sherwood’s grandfather, Jan Kalina, was born in Czechoslovakia in 1913 and died in Germany in 1981. He smiled and joked his way across some of the darkest years of the century. In Rendezvous in Bratislava, Sherwood tries to bring back to life the grandfather she never knew in a quirky cabaret that takes the form of a party to which we are all invited. The piece acknowledges the impossibility of ever really knowing the truth, how bits of all our lives are lost to the future and how things get lost in translation (the piece is performed in both English and Slovakian). It is also a celebration of what we inherit, perhaps without realising it, from those who came before us. It would be a hard heart that refused to warm to the foibles of this low-fi, unassuming, heartfelt and distinctly left-field show.”
Miriam and her granddad are making a cabaret together. They’re the perfect double act: He’s got the stories, she loves telling them, and they both have a flair for the theatrical. The only problem is – they’ve never met. And he’s been dead for 39 years.
Rendezvous in Bratislava combines new music, a four-piece British Slovak band, comedy, cabaret and original 1940s photographs and recordings to share the life story of writer Miriam Sherwood’s grandfather – Jan ‘Laco’ Kalina.
Laco Kalina was a dramaturg, satirist, collector of jokes and writer of cabarets, born in Czechoslovakia in 1913. A Slovak Jew, he survived the fascists only to be imprisoned by the communists, who believed him a threat to the regime.
Using his autobiographies and cabaret material, we present this generationally challenged duo: a contemporary cabaret featuring original music and real-life Slovaks.
Developed at Battersea Arts Centre and JW3 and supported by Arts Council England.