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 37 years.
My granddad, Laco Kalina, was a dramaturg, satirist, collector of jokes and writer of cabarets. He was born in Slovakia in 1913 and died in Germany in 1981. He survived the fascists only to be imprisoned by the communists, who believed he was a threat to the regime.
Using his autobiographies and cabaret material and our family history, I have worked with composers Thom Andrewes and Will Gardner and a band of Slovak musicians over the last 2 years to create Rendezvous In Bratislava.
The show is touring the UK in Autumn 2018 - we will be performing 23 shows and visiting 9 venues.
We have had fantastic support from Battersea Arts Centre, JW3, Arts Council England and Unity Theatre Trust and have raised £34,951 so far to make the tour happen. We just need to raise the final £1,300 to deliver the tour and to reach new audiences.
What is the money for?
We will be touring for 2 months and the budget covers the costs of performer fees, set and costume, technical support, marketing and travel.
As well as performing to regular theatre-goers, we want to reach new audiences. We will be carrying out specific marketing, meeting with Czech and Slovak groups, performing in community venues and working with Battersea Arts Centre’s collaborative touring network festivals to reach Slovak and Czech audiences who don't usually get to see their stories performed on UK stages.
Whilst the show is about my grandfather, it also tells the story of a whole generation and shares the history of many others in Eastern Europe during the twentieth century.
“It made me remember how my grandparents used to live and even the suitcase was one like my grandfather’s. Bittersweetly nostalgic.”
“The communism and all the struggle are very connected to me, so all of the show I found very impactful. It made me cry, made me laugh, it made me proud to be myself. I loved it!”
“There were moments I could connect to on the personal level and nearly burst out crying so many times. I was constantly interested and wanted to know more. It was fantastic and beautiful and very inspiring.”
(Audience feedback from work-in-progress performances)
How can I help?
If you’d like to support our crowdfunder that would be brilliant and so much appreciated. You can choose your level of support and your reward. If you’re not able to support financially you can still provide invaluable help by sharing this campaign on social media (buttons to share are below the video), telling a friend about it or sending the link to a group you are part of.
How can I find out more about the show?
There’s more information about Rendezvous in Bratislava on our website here including some recordings of songs from the show and the tour dates.
Rendezvous in Bratislava builds a relationship between family members across generations, languages and geographical borders: between writer/ performer Miriam Sherwood and her late granddad-Jan Ladislav Kalina- a cabarettist and Slovak Jew, who survived the fascists only to be exiled by the communists.
We welcome the audience into our Miriam’s grandparents’ living room for a playful contemporary cabaret, combining Laco’s own scripts and jokes with Miriam’s docu-theatre style and original music. What emerges is a recipe for hope, laughter and resilience in the face of the darkest political turmoil.
The performance attempts to follow Kalina’s own instructions for cabaret, from his 1960 book, “The Actor on the Stage: A Variety Revue Handbook”, with the support of his collected works, 11 original songs, photographs, sound recordings and an on-stage band of musician-performers from Slovakia.
The show presents a poignant and timely political commentary. Above all, though, it is the celebration of a lifetime dedicated to the creation of theatre; not just because of the power it has to allow us to hold ourselves and our political systems to account, but because to try, fail, laugh and try again is to be human.