Miřenka Čechová Performs ‘Light in a Darkness & The Death of the Marquis De Sade/Dante’ at ATLAS 5/31-6/2

Miřenka Čechová and  Radim Vizváry in 'Dante.' Photo courtesy of Atlas Performance Arts Center.
Miřenka Čechová and Radim Vizváry in ‘Dante.’ Photo courtesy of Atlas Performance Arts Center.

Acclaimed actress Miřenka Čechová, and her company Tantehorse from the Czech Republic will mount Dante-Light in a Darkness, a piece that combines surreal and decadent poetry with elements of physical theater and modern dance. Tantehorse Company initially focused on the strong Czech tradition of modern pantomime, however the ensemble soon abandoned the world of fragile silence and went their own way through slapstick, comedy and black humor, with works tending towards surrealism and decadence.

Friday, May 31 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, June 1 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 2 at 4:00 pm

Length: 80 minutes with no intermission.

Get Tickets to Dante – Light In A Darkness. 

From Miřenka Čechová: Light in a Darkness & The Death of the Marquis De Sade/Dante  (Parts 2 and 3 from Dark Trilogy):

“As an author, I want to find the language that will speak more clearly than any verbal one. I want to touch something godlike within us. As a spectator, I want to meet myself in the image in front of me. The actor is now my mirror, the mirror that can bring me a new image of myself because his experience is now my experience and, I have changed. This is an encounter. This is the miracle of theater. Only in the here and now can the encounter between the audience and the actors happen.

‘The World is already here. There is no sense to copy the World. We have to create new images of the World.’ This concept comes from expressionistic painters that strenuously search for the essential expression of real life. The theater should do the same. The theater has to provoke through its beauty: it has to provoke you to feel life, to reveal the animal and the child within us. Theater has to disturb, to confuse and to attack the audience in order to change them to allow them to experience something new. The theater has to touch something within us, something that resonates: open forgotten dreams, images and hidden memories to give the chance for the audience to become a co-creator. Not to explain, not to give the instruction manual on how to read the performance, but to create the spectator’s own map of understanding through their own life experience, the emotions, dreams and moments that resonate with their lives.


Miřenka Čechová.
Miřenka Čechová.

Miřenka Čechová is an actor, performer, choreographer and director from the Czech Republic. She is one of the leading proponents of physical theatre in Europe and the creator of a special genre called physical mime. She is co-founder of the Spitfire Theatre Company (physical theatre) and Tantehorse: physical mime theatre (physical mime and butoh). Her work with these companies has been presented in over eleven European countries. Additionally, her solo work has been presented in four European nations as well as the United States and Japan. Miřenka Čechová is also a founding member of The International Festival Zero Point, which brings the best of physical, mime, visual and multi-genres theatre forms to Prague from throughout Europe. Dr. Čechová  is on the faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (AMU) in Prague. She earned her Ph.D. in Physical Theatre Direction and Mime from the same institution and has also done significant work in Japanese butoh and, most recently, hip-hop. In 2011, Dr. Čechová received a Fulbright Scholarship for lecturing and research at American University in Washington, DC.

Miřenka Čechová has received much important and deserved recognition for her work. This includes prizes such as the Grand prix in the Polish theater festival Zdarzenia for her performance in The World of Condemned and the award from the festival Next wave for her performance in Trials 10/48/7830 about the murder of the female political prisoner Milada Horakova by the communist government. She was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role of the Fool in King Lear performed with the Synetic Theatre Company in Washington, DC and is the recipient of the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Ensemble in the same play. In June of 2012, Ms. Čechová received the Prague Fringe Festival’s award for Outstanding Performance. She received the same distinction in Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival. Following a very successful US premiere of her work S/He is Nancy Joe, she received the “Best of 2012 in Contemporary Dance” award from the Washington Post. Upcoming performances include tours to the United States (Tantehorse Company, Light in a Darkness), South Africa (Spitfire Company, The Voice of Anne Frank and Edinburgh, Scotland (Tantehorse Company, S/He is Nancy Joe).

radim1Radim Vizvary is a mime, actor, director, choreographer, author and the co-founder of the internationally acclaimed Tantehorse: physical mime theatre. Mr. Vizvary is a frequent participant in international theater festivals as a performer and, also, as a leader of workshops and master classes. He has received several important distinctions among them, the main award on the international, VI Festiwal Teatrów Europy Środkowej Sąsiedzi“ in Poland for his solo work, Lorca – Love in Vain as well as the “Pearl” prize.

Mr. Vizvary serves on the faculties of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (where he received his Ph.d. in May 2013) at the Department of Mime Theater and the Theater school Die Etage in Berlin, where he teaches courses in Physical Mime. His artistic focus is on the creation of his own methodology of physical mime technique, inspired by the technique of Etienne Decroux and his own doctoral research. In his artistic creation he develops classical mime through new influences such as theater butoh, slapstick comedy, clownery, physical and visual theater and contemporary music. As an author and director Radim is the producer of more than 20 mime performances, 15 pantomimic etudes and is regularly engaged as a choreographer for performances in big theatre productions.

403566_4459910888775_966315644_nMartin Spetlik, Lighting Designer/Technical Designer/Technical Artist, studied for several years at the Faculty of Architecture of the CVUT in Prague. He has worked as a lighting technician in Dejvice Theater and as master of scenic lighting in vandovo Theater in Smíchov. As a lighting designer, he has also collaborated with other theater groups, including Theater Continuo, Compagnie Decalages, Teatr Novogo Fronta, Krepsko, Spitfire Company, Silo Theatre, and Debajehmujig Theatre Group. He specializes in physical and dance-theater, site-specific projects, and object and visual theater. He is also a pedagogue (he taught at the Indian reservation Wikwemikong (CAN), Die Etage (Berlin), Light Design Institute (Prague). Mr. Spetlik received the award “Best Lighting Design Award at Dance Platform Festival” (Czech Republic) in May 2013.

384195_4703157542866_1274057045_nMatous Hekela, Sound Designer, began to experiment with electronic music on his very first computer, using sequences of beep commands to recreate soap opera intros for his mother. Inspired by the 90s electro scene, he struggled with the fact that no one would dance to his dark, expressive sounds. This is what led him to his career in sound design for the stage. Formerly affiliated with the Tramtárie theatre in Olomouc, CZ, most of his current work has been done in collaboration with Tantehorse (Dark Trilogy, Salome, TanteHorse, S/He is Nancy Joe) and Spitfire Company (Traffic Dance). His music, customized for each work, combines a variety of approaches including digital modification of live sound, a variety of music genres, a fusion of organic electronica with processed sound, noise elements, and the spoken word.

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Tantehorse was founded in 2006 by Miřenka Čechová and Radim Vizváry as Teatro Pantomissimo. Initially, the group focused on continuing the strong Czech tradition of modern pantomime, building on the work of their teacher Boris Hybner and the influences of Ladislav Fialka and Marcel Marceau. The ensemble soon abandoned the world of fragile silence, however, and went their own way incorporating slapstick, comedy and black humor, with works tending towards surrealism and decadence. The encounter with the Japanese dance art, Butoh, was crucial for the group and strongly influenced its poetics. Three separate performances were created between 2007 and 2009, and interconnected into one dramaturgically elaborate concept named Dark Trilogy under the direction of Petr Boháč. The impressive style as well as the content of this piece (which takes the spectator through minimalism, surrealism and decadence) reveals the richness of physical theatre which Tantehorse elevated to a strongly aesthetic and emotionally intense art form. The press wrote about Dark Trilogy: “They belong to the very best of Czech physical theatre not only with regard to their professionalism, mimic, acting and dancing skills, but also for their originality, powerful thoughts and artistic quality. Their show is an amazing spectacle.“ (Vojtěch Varyš, Divadelní noviny).

Tantehorse is now touring regularly outside the Czech Republic, where they are primarily devoted to teaching and presenting new plays. Both founding members are active in the theater school Die Etage in Berlin, leading master classes in Poland, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria and they are both on the faculty at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. In recent years, they have made their presence felt in the United States, where Miřenka Čechová has presented her artistic work in Washington, DC, New York City, Pennsylvania and Florida in the series of lectures and performances. In 2011, she joined Synetic Theatre to play the part of the Fool in their wordless production of King Lear. Radim Vizvary has added directing and teaching to his activities in Berlin and Prague. The ensemble has closely collaborated with world leaders of physical theater (Sabine Seume, Anke Gerber, Bartolomiej Ostapczuk, Irina Andreeva, Olivier Pollac) and takes part in organizing international conferences dealing with the theoretical and practical problems of the genre.

Their home, however, is still in Prague, where they create and present new performances which receive enthusiastic responses abroad. The ensemble has introduced their work in over 11 countries and have successfully represented the Czech Republic at major theater festivals (Acco Theatre Festival in Izrael, International mime festival KINEMA in Wroclaw, Unidram festival in Berlin, International Mime Art Festival in Warsaw, International Pantomime Festival in Dresden) where the Tantehorse performances are viewed as absolutely unique, provocative, and seeking the essence of theater. Due to this, the Czech theatrical environment remains extremely creative and, in spite of the gradual commercialization of art, retains its essential artistic function.

Founders and artistic directors: Miřenka Čechová and Radim Vizváry
Lighting Designer/Technical Artist: Martin Špetlík

Music Composer and Sound Designer: Matouš Hekela
Production Managers: Judita Hoff, David Prokopič, CZ • NJ Snider, USA


The main impetus behind DARK TRILOGY was the idea of creating a challenging compositional whole that would reflect the richness of mime theater. The poetic of the entire work moves from the surreal and decadent towards elements of baroque, rococo and mannerism. The various scenes recall the first paintings by Salvador Dalí, the work of Giorgio Chirico or, the films of Jan Svankmajer and Peter Greenaway. Starting with the motif of unrequited love in Virginie (not performed) and the motif of dying love arising from the haze of memories in The Death of Marquis de Sade, in Dante we encounter a love that is passionate, sinful, and devilish. All this, in one evening, with two actors.

At the end of the three-year journey it took to create this work, we can say that these performances (Virginie – In a Dark Place, The Death of Marquise de Sade – On the Dark Road, and DanteLight in the Darkness) have become both a gamble and a profession of faith for us: a gamble as to the meaning of mime theatre, and, a profession of faith in the beauty of its possibilities.


We are taken back, along with the main character, to the time of his childhood and, specifically, of his relationship with his mother. A mother who rejects him passionately and loves, as well as, hates him. Surreal imagination, mimicry, and the modern dance gestures make this performance a unique experience. The music for the performance was composed by Jan Kucera.


Come with us on a journey down a dark and mysterious road…nobody knows where it ends… Witness a world in which human sins come to life like harmless monsters… What does Death think about when he comes for us? And what is his world like? As bizarre and trivial as ours? And, what if Death, taking on the face of child, gets lost in his daydreams and forgets about his work… Time stands still, man goes numb, objects come to life…Reaching the end of the road is exciting, exhilarating and, dangerous.

“Tantehorse ́s performances are original – young, postmodern, eager in searching for new influences from various theater genres as well as fine arts.“ (Český Rozhlas).


“Anyone who has not experienced hell for at least a while will find it hard to gaze beyond the gates of heaven. And anyone who has not experienced heaven will find it hard to understand hell. Hell is not outside of us; hell exists within us – just as we contain within us the promise of heaven. “Death is coming and will have your eyes…”


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