Former Czech President, playwright, and jailed dissident Václav Havel would have turned 80 on October 5; yesterday, cities across the US were host to celebrations honoring him on the occasion of Czech Statehood Day.
Earlier this year, it was announced that New York City mayor Bill De Blasio had officially named September 28th Václav Havel Day.
To celebrate, the city paid host to a special evening organized by The Václav Havel Library Foundation.
At the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan, a gala celebration hosted by screenwriter and human rights activist Margaret Nagle was attended by Havel’s widow Dagmar Havlová and Prague mayor Adriana Krnáčová.
A pair of short plays were performed at the New York event: Havel’s Mistake and Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe. Under the direction of Michael Sexton, Tony Award-winning actors Blair Brown (Orange is the New Black) and Stephen Spinella (Angels in America) starred alongside Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story) and Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America).
Beckett dedicated the play Catastrophe to Havel in 1982 after the playwright was jailed by Soviet authorities for political dissent. The following year, Havel wrote Mistake for Beckett.
New York was not the only city to honor Havel.
In Washington, D.C., celebrations took place at the Czech Embassy, the Atlantic Council, and Havel’s Place, a memorial to the former president that can be seen in cities throughout the world.
In Prague, 2016 has seen a year-long series of events to honor Václav Havel that will culminate in a gala celebration at Lucerna’s Grand Hall next Wednesday, October 5, on the 80th anniversary of Havel’s birth.