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As of January 2024, the Archa Theatre has been transformed into ARCHA+, a multifunctional cultural space open to collaboration with many partners and its own work for the upcoming generation.

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Ondřej Hrab and Jana Svobodová continue their creative activity in the newly founded organization Archa - Centre of Documentary Theatre, z.ú.

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Ordinary People

Archa Theatre and Living Dance Studio, Beijing

Jana Svobodová, Wen Hui and co. — Ordinary People / Obyčejní lidé

At a time when the leaders of many countries show disdain for basic human rights in the interests of political business, we ask: Who are these ordinary people whom they claim to represent?

Vladimír, 73, lives in a small town near Prague. He worked his whole life in a factory as a turner and toolmaker. When he was young he was one of the best rock and roll dancers in Prague. Every Saturday night he was the king of the dance floor, dancing an extravagant "capitalist" dance, until the police would come and escort him out.  Saturday after Saturday the same story would be repeated. They could not repress his passion to dance freely.
Wen was born in the 1960s and is a dancer and choreographer. She lives in Beijing. She was trained at the theatre academy to be the prima ballerina of the propaganda ballet company. The time of her youth corresponded with the era of student protests and great hopes, which never came to fruition. Her life had been saved, but she has never forgotten the trauma. In the 90s she founded the first independent dance company in China, the Living Dance Studio.

The performance combines principles of documentary theatre and dance. Followed by a discussion with the artists.

The Living Dance Studio, Beijing
The Living Dance Studio was founded in 1994 by filmmaker Wu Wenguang and choreographer and dancer Wen Hui as the first independent contemporary company in China. Until recently, they were able to work in the Caochangdi Work Station in Beijing, designed especially for them by artist Ai Weiwei. Their productions, in which dance, text and film are often combined into total works of art, document social and historical events from China’s past and present. It gets by without any state subsidies whatsoever. As a rule, the productions cannot be shown publicly. Thus, Wen Hui’s work exists in a semi-public grey area of state toleration. The Living Dance Studio is invited regularly to perform in Europe, the USA and other countries.


Performed by: Wen Hui, Vladimír Tůma, Jiang Fan / Yiai Yao, Philipp Schenker, Wen Luyuan, Jan Burian, Li Xinmin, Jaroslav Hrdlička and Pavel Kotlík

Directed by Wen Hui and Jana Svobodová
Music and sound design: Jan Burian
Video art: Jaroslav Hrdlička
Light design: Pavel Kotlík
Assistent director: Valida Babayeva
Dramaturgy: Ondřej Hrab
Dramaturgical assistance: Lonneke van Heugten and Carmen Mehnert
Translations: Ian Yang, Anna Vrbová, Andre Swoboda
Subtitles: Haruna Honcoopová
Production: Jindřich Krippner
Special thanks: Martin C. Putna and Zuzana Li

The performance is a co-production by the Archa Theatre and the Hellerau European Centre for the Arts,Dresden within the European project Theatron and with the financial support of the Culture Program.

Premieres in Prague on 22 and 23 January 2017 and in Dresden on 27 and 28 January 2017.


“Pictures, people and stories, events from different eras and other remote locations begin to mingle with each other, revealing their contradictions and continuity. It‘s about self-assertion, renunciation, fear, distress, shame and the things that make us happy. It‘s authentic, not trite and yet everyone tells it in their own way.” – Gabriele Gorgas in Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten

“When at the end of the performance the 75-year-old Mr. Tůma, Archa‘s accidentally dances with the young Chinese women, it is a magnificent celebration of ordinary lives that flies in the face of demagoguery.” – Martin C. Putna in Lidové noviny

“Everything in the performance has its counterpart and is carried through to absurdity when a tragic story is always followed by a complete change of scene and atmosphere. At one point, striking and painful events instantly turn funny. A lot is happening on stage. The viewer does not notice the time, the evening flows without cease. … A drama charged with emotion ending in joy, passion and perhaps the promise of freedom.” – Monika Čižmáriková in Taneční aktuality

more reviews


30 January 2017 — Husa na provázku Theatre, Brno, Czech Republic
9 November2017 — Husa na provázku Theatre, Brno, Czech Republic
27 October 2017 — Maribor Theatre Festival, Slovenia
18 November 2017 — Teatro-Cine Torres Vedras, Portugal
20–22 November 2017 — Archa Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic


Obyčejní lidé CZ loga