Eastern Express – Leaving. Between rebellion and politics


Participants: Petr Janyška, Izabela Cywińska

Moderator: Friar Tomasz Dostatni

The debate will be inspired by „Odcházení” („Leaving”), a play Václav Havel wrote after his second term as the Czech president ended (the play had its premiere in 2008) and based it on his political experiences.

Havel comments on the facile world of ostensible order, logic and democracy with a comedic distance. He mercilessly analyses „those in power”, populism and political stupidity.

During the first series of discussions which are a part of this year’s East of Culture – Different Sounds Festival, we will examine the modern Czech Republic through the grotesque perspective characteristic of Václav Havel.

The discussion will be preceded by a screening of the movie „Leaving” directed by Václav Havel.


Petr Janyška (born 1953) – a Czech translator, columnist and journalist, a diplomat in Václav Havel’s office, the head of the Czech Centre in Warsaw and a participant of the Civic Forum during the Velvet Revolution.


Izabela Cywińska – full name Maria Izabella Cywińska-Michałowska -  born on March 25, 1935 in Kamień Puławski, a Polish theatre and film director, film critic, between 1989 and 1990 the minister of culture and art, between 2008 and 2011 the artistic director of the Ateneum Theatre in Warsaw. She has studied ethnography at the Warsaw University and directing at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. She has directed in theatres in Białystok, Warsaw and Nowa Huta.

Between 1970 and 1973 she was the director of the Bugusławski Theatre in Kalisz. In 1973 she reactivated the New Theatre in Poznań, where she staged the play „Oskarżony: czerwiec pięćdziesiąt sześć” („The Accused: June ’56″) for which she was detained for a couple of months during the martial law period. After Gustaw Holoubek’s death, on March 26, 2008, she became the artistic director of the Ateneum Theatre in Warsaw and continued to work there until June 1, 2011.

She has directed plays for the Television Theatre (e.g. „An Enemy of the People” by Ibsen) as well as film productions (the TV series „Boża podszewka” in 1997 and 2004).

From 12 September 1989 to 14 December 1990 she was the minister of culture and art in Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s government. In 2005 she signed the declaration of support for the Democratic Party, she also co-authored its cultural programme. She was a member of the Bronisław Komorowski support committee before the presidential elections in 2010 and 2015.


Friar Tomasz Dostatni – a Dominican, founder of the Centre of Christian Art in Prague. The author of many TV programmes. A member of the editorial council of the Czech theological magazine „Salve”. The originator and moderator of many debates, e.g. „Enterprise – culture – religion”, a series of philosophical debates „How to live” and „The Debate of Two Pulpits”. He is committed to ecumenical movement, inter-religion and social dialogue. He was a member of the cross-department team of advisors on the matters of the Polish community abroad for the Polish prime minister. He is a member of the St. Wojciech – Adalbert Foundation.