Interview: Rebeka Hrubšová, Director of The Gypsywood Players’ “Tracy’s Tiger”

“Tracy’s Tiger”, staged by the Gyspsywood Players, Masaryk University’s English-language theatre group, had its premiere this Monday. Ahead of the show, Brno Daily’s Fernando Galindo visited the company during their last rehearsal to talk to Rebeka Hrubšová, director of the production. Credit: Gypsywood Players.

BD: What are you staging this season?

Rebeka: We’re staging Tracy’s Tiger, which is an adaptation of a novella of the same name by William Saroyan. It’s a story of a young man who aims to create a normal, happy life for himself, but it doesn’t work out as intended. The unusual thing about Tracy is that he has a tiger (which is not really a tiger but a black panther) – an imaginary companion that represents… Well, Saroyan states that the tiger represents love, and that is true, and yet I believe that ‘love’ can be understood in a very broad sense here. It’s Tracy’s inner power, his courage, his emotional side that usually stays hidden in others. It’s what completes him and makes him unique.

BD: Why did you choose this play and what was the work behind directing it?

R: I’ve owned this book since I was 15 years old; it was gifted to me by my mother. I loved the story ever since – it’s an interesting metaphor wrapped in a charmingly playful and whimsical coat. On top of that, the story contains many characters so it always felt like a potential good match for the GWP, where the number of actors is usually higher than fifteen. I got the idea to turn the story into a play during the pandemic. My partner Vojta got very excited by this and he wrote the majority of the play in three days, which we then edited over a much longer course of time. This autumn, the play was ready at last and the idea could finally come to fruition under my direction.

The directing itself, for me, is a matter of many, many hours spent in preparation. I feel that the capacity of my imagination has really been put to the test. It’s a continuous process of dreaming big, trying to balance the dreams with reality and contending with the inevitability of mistakes happening. As a director, I believe I always need to have some plan. And at the same time, it’s vital that I also keep my mind and heart open to creative ideas from the actors. After all, the play belongs to them. It’s them who makes the words come alive.

Rebeka Hrubšová, director of Tracy’s Tiger. Credit: Rebeka Hrubšová.

BD: What is your connection to the company?

R: I joined the GWP in 2014 as a second-year student of English Language and Literature at MUNI. My friends who were already members of the company convinced me to audition as a choir singer for the musical production of Animal Farm. The process of working on a theatre play enchanted me and I feel that I found a certain home in this ever-changing, ever-evolving group. I’ve been involved in every production since – as a singer, stagehand, actor, photographer, production coordinator, and finally assistant director and director. My experience with the GWP has taught me a lot about myself, about teamwork, about personal responsibility and perseverance, and about being a part of something much bigger than myself. It’s been a thoroughly rewarding and meaningful experience.

BD: What do you want to achieve with this production?

R: I’ll admit this is a difficult question for me. I certainly want to put together an entertaining show which people will find at least a bit relatable. However, my main motivator is probably my wish to take this opportunity to learn even more and hopefully also create a meaningful experience for the wonderful people involved in this production. I feel I’ve received a lot as a member of this group – and my wish now is to give back to the community.

BD: Is there anything you would like to tell the audiences who are coming?

R: While I believe that everything is open to interpretation, one of the intended messages of the play is that people are beautiful. And I think everyone needs to hear this from time to time. I would, therefore, like to use this opportunity to say that you, whoever you might be, are beautiful too.

It’s been an honour and a privilege to direct this show. I would be all the more honoured to have you in the audience and it is my sincere hope that you will enjoy what this great group of fellow beautiful people has managed to do over the course of mere 10 weeks. So, see you in the theatre?

Tracy’s Tiger will have its second performance this Saturday, 9 December at 7pm. You can buy tickets at or on the door at the Barka Theatre in Kralovo Pole. 

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