Silent and Unmoving

This is a guest post by Candice Holdsworth

As part of the 17 September launch of Index on Censorship’s latest edition, I attended an event at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon entitled: “Time for a Revolution”. The event and the new edition of the magazine both marked the 20-year anniversary of the transformations in eastern Europe in 1989, with a panel discussion following the performance of two rarely-performed plays from that era.

The two plays in question were Václav Havel’s ‘Mistake’ and Samuel Beckett’s ‘Catastrophe.’ Beckett had in 1982 dedicated ‘Catastrophe’ to the then-imprisoned Havel, whom the Czech authorities had sentenced to four and half years in prison for ‘subversive activities.’ Havel had been greatly moved by this gesture of solidarity; upon his release one year later, he dedicated ‘Mistake’ to Beckett. These two plays are rarely performed. But they retain their brevity and pathos today, even though decades removed from the historical and political context in which they were originally conceived.