The School of International and Public Affairs at FIU celebrated the launch of the Vaclav Havel Initiative for Human Rights and Diplomacy with a multimedia performance by the Czech theater troupe, Laterna Magika. A company of the Czech National Theater, Laterna Magika staged a production of Anticodes, a multimedia interpretation of Václav Havel’s experimental poetry of the same name. On December 10, 2013, the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio opened its doors to 200 guests for a performance that used digital audio, visual effects and contemporary ballet to interpret Havel’s poetry and highlight formative moments of his life and career.
The evening began with an introduction by SIPA Executive Director John F. Stack, Jr., who welcomed everyone and introduced the Václav Havel Initiative for Human Rights and Diplomacy, “We are so pleased to launch the Václav Havel Initiative. This effort has been years in the making. The initiative will serve as an international academic center for scholars, researchers and students focusing on democratic transition around the world, while drawing on the legacy of Václav Havel and the experiments in democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe.”
Dr. Stack explained the initiative’s first major project, Preparing Miami for Democratic Transition in Cuba. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the project is designed to promote an understanding among Cuban Americans about the realities of the process of peaceful transition, including timing, challenges, risks and opportunities. Following Dr. Stack’s remarks, Dr. Martin Palous, director of the Havel Initiative, referenced his personal experiences and encounters with the late Václav Havel. Former Czech ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Dr. Palous was a close friend and colleague of Havel and a signer of the Charter of 77, an informal civic initiative in communist Czechoslovakia that created momentum for the subsequent Velvet Revolution of 1989.
The Anticodes performance added an unusual twist to regular theatrical presentations as it steered away from the typical usage of film footage, which was replaced by projection and sounds from actual live sources. The production used real-time tracking, which detects people or objects in pre-determined zones and turns the stage into a real-time visual and aural reflection of the movement of dancers on the stage. A piece of conceptual art itself, Anticodes explores Havel’s creative use of visual poetry to champion free speech.