“The good the just the righteous you shall go to Hell
The more you try to wash yourself the more you´re going to smell.”
Avant-garde cabaret meets Brechtian opera, punk and contemporary music in the critically acclaimed musical comedy Here I Am Human! The original Czech-language production premiered at the Archa Theatre in September 2010. Now the band returns to Prague to stage an all-English version of the show. Tickets to the three English-language performances on February 20, 21 and 22 are still available at the Archa Theatre box office.
In recent years Archa has become a home stage for The Tiger Lillies. “After a series of annual concerts we approached the band with an offer to create an original musical show for the theatre,” said Ondřej Hrab, Archa´s artistic director. “The Tiger Lillies accepted the offer and created a number of new songs thematically linked to François Rabelais´s medieval novel Gargantua and Pantagruel. The lyrics are characterized by depravity, turning the world upside down, oscillation between “upper” and “lower” social classes and fascination with various manifestations of carnality.”
In Here I Am Human! The Tiger Lillies have joined forces with Irish playwright Jocelyn Clarke, Czech director Jiří Havelka and the Archa Theatre to create an edifying piece of “musical morality”. The work examines the dark sides of human life. Dirty and passionate songs replete with black humour and irony deal with bizarre characters and the stories of people on the fringes of society. Carnality in all its forms is explored within the bizarre setting of a modern “beauty laboratory” for the creation of physically perfect men and women. Actor Jiří Zeman portrays a kind of “East European beauty guru” who guides us through the stages of life, from conception to birth to death, and introduces us to various cleaning and beauty products and procedures along the way.
The Tiger Lillies – Martyn Jacques (lyricist, vocals, piano, accordion), Adrian Huge (drums, percussion, toys) and Adrian Stout (bass guitar, saw, vocals) – was formed in 1989 in London. In addition to concerts, the world-famous trio have created many renowned theatre projects, such as the “junk opera” Shockheaded Peter, which won Britain´s prestigious Laurence Olivier Award. Vocalist Martyn Jacques is famous for his rapid shifts from crude, tawdry singing to operatic falsetto.
For the production of Here I Am Human! Irish dramatist Jocelyn Clarke set the band´s explicit lyrics against the concept of etiquette and the rules of social behaviour, which attempt to suppress all manifestations of carnality and the emotions. The director is Jiří Havelka, under whom the production developed as an open process, where the final form of the script, dramatic action and images was the result of a creative collaboration between performers, director, playwright, stage setter and musicians.
After the Prague run there are plans to take the English version of the production abroad, in particular to the Netherlands and New York next year.
From Lidové Noviny: “It starts with an ironic statement: Homo sapiens is still a bit of a pig. Human “swinishness” is attested by the pink snouts and ears, the masks on the heads of the musicians and the first thing that we see on the stage – the naked, protruding posterior of the band leader, the evil-eyed singer Martyn Jacques. “Swinish” humanity is represented by a live, pink little piglet. The stage is dominated by an aseptic white exhibition panel with cosmetic products and devices, which forms the background. From this panel step out Adam and Eve (actress Zuzana Stavna and dancer Jiri Bartovanec) our contemporaries – shampooed, perfumed, smiling, attractive people. In the centre stands a chiropodist´s chair like a throne for a bizarre impresario (Jiri Zeman Sonmez), an advertising agent, pseudo-scientific lecturer and demiurge all in one.”
Tickets: CZK 390 / students and seniors CZK 290 on sale at the Archa Theatre box office
When: February 20 and 21 / 8:00 p.m.
February 22 / 6:00 p.m. (part of the Small Inventory Festival)
Where: Archa Theatre, Na Poříčí 26, Prague 1