Hrdý Budžes (B. Proudew) in English

Image credit: Courtesy of Anne Johnson.

Dramatic reading in English of a well-loved Czech play available online for a limited time in December.

Adult conversations often take place in the presence of children. Adults assume that the children aren’t listening, or if they are listening, that they won’t understand. Sometimes the children don’t understand, or they understand something quite different from what was said. And of course, sometimes the children understand more than the adults.

In the 1970s, in Communist Czechoslovakia, there were certainly a lot of adult conversations that were difficult for children to fathom. Irena Dousková wrote Hrdý Budžes, a novel set in that time. It is the first book in a loose trilogy about Helena Součková. Helenka is an eight-year-old girl trying to follow the conversations and actions of her theater family during the period of normalization. The novel was adapted into a play in 2003; the play has been performed over 600 times with Barbora Hrzánová as Helenka.

In 2013, the novel Hrdý Budžes was translated into English by Melvyn Clarke as B. Proudew. The English translation is available through if you’re looking for a great book to read that opens a playful window into a darker time in Czech history.

Czech Theater, z.s., is an amateur multicultural community theater in Brno that puts on Czech plays in English. In 2021 (Covid willing), Czech Theater will stage B. Proudew, the first staging of the beloved Czech play in English. In these difficult times for performers, some of Czech Theater’s actors decided to independently perform a dramatic reading of the play online. This means the actors are reading the play (not performing it from memory) and acting without a stage or many props. It’s a very stripped-down version of the play, but it still tells a story.

The play will be up on the Comedius YouTube channel December 10-13, 2020 (go to the Facebook page to get the link on December 10). Our hope is that you will enjoy watching the dramatic reading of the play and be inspired to read the book it’s based on. And we hope that some of you might be inspired to audition for the play when it’s possible to perform on a stage again.

This text was prepared by Anne Johnson, co-founder of Czech Theater.

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