STRACH/FEAR / Jessica Litwak & Jiří Honzírek

performance length: 80 min
A darkly comic political theatre piece about the dangers people encounter on every side of every border. / in English

The Fear/Strach Project is a theatre piece about fear of the other, which faces the underlying causes of racism and refugee phobia in both Central Europe and North America. The text is based on interviews with thirty people of varying ages and backgrounds in two countries: The Czech Republic and The United States. The piece probes fear as it arises in people as they relate to strangers, specifically refugees. With this theatrical work we are exploring the xenophobia, intolerance and prejudice that occur when a dominant culture encounters a refugee culture. We are looking to human fear as the deeper cause of hate. The idea for the play came out of conversations between playwright/performer Jessica Litwak (USA) and director Jiří Honzírek (Czech Republic) and was developed through interviews.

In our interviews we asked questions like:
1. What are you afraid of?
2. Who are you afraid of?
3. Where are you most afraid?
4. How do you react to fear?
5. What/Who helps you deal with fear? OR What heals/conquers fear?
6. What is the enemy?
7. Who is the enemy?
8. Where is the enemy?
9. How do you react to the enemy?
10. What/Who helps you deal with hate? OR What heals/conquers hate?
11. What is home?
12. Who is the stranger?
13. How do you feel about your country right now?

The answers to these questions were astounding. Haunting, funny and moving they lead us to believe that there is a story here worth telling. We transcribed the interviews and edited them, then created a long choral poem for five voices. When we get into the studio we will use the interview poem along with movement, music, projections, as well as character development, and realistic scenes to build a non-linear story about the real and imagined dangers people encounter on every side of every border.

Creative Team: Jessica Litwak and Jiří Honzírek and five actors (TBA)

Jiří Honzírek has headed of the independent Feste Theatre for ten years. The dramaturgy of Feste focuses on problematic topics of society, topics of the past and the present times of Central European living. The mission of the theatre is the development of open society in a post-communist country, dealing with discrimination, nationalism and other social problems. Jiří Honzírek is a graduate of the Janáček Academy of the Performing Arts in Brno (CZ), received two scholarships to the Hoogeschool voor de Kunsten in Amsterdam, studied one year at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen (DE), and took a special course in documentary theatre with Rimini Protokoll in Berlin. He understands theatre as a committed social and sociable institution, which should have an ambition to participate in discussions on society in public space.

Jessica Litwak, Ph.D., RDT is a seasoned theatre arts professional focused specifically on theatre for social change and community engagement. She is a recognized leader in the field with over 30 years experience. She is playwright, educator, actor, Registered Drama Therapist, and a trained practitioner of Playback, Psychodrama, and Theatre of the Oppressed. She is the Artistic Director of The H.E.A.T. Collective ( Her collection of plays, Wider Than the Sky and Other Plays was published by No Passport Press. Other work has been published by TCG, Applause Books, Smith and Krause, and The New York Times. Plays include: Dream Acts, The Emma Goldman Trilogy: Love Anarchy and Other Affairs, The Snake and The Falcon, and Nobody Is Sleeping, A Pirate’s Lullaby (Rattlestick Theater and at The Goodman Theatre). The Promised Land, produced in Budapest and New York. Secret Agents and Victory Dance (The Renberg Theatre, and DR2 ). Terrible Virtue (The Lark and The Culture Project), Wider Than The Sky (The Lark, UCONN, Boston Museum of Science, Epic Theatre). Her plays for youth: GRIM, Postcards from Canterbury, The Great Journey Home, Verona High, and War: An American Dream, written and directed by Litwak, have been produced in New York and Massachusetts. Her play The Moons Of Jupiter was produced in Massachusetts and Colorado. My Heart is in the East was produced at LaMaMa ETC. Litwak has performed on stages across the U.S., and in Europe. She has taught theatre (voice, acting, playwriting and improvisation) Applied Theatre and Drama Therapy at San Francisco State University, the Theatre Academy at Los Angeles City College, Stella Adler Academy, Marymount Manhattan College, Columbia, NYU, Lesley University, Whitman College, and Naropa University. She has used drama therapy and theatre techniques as healing and change agents in conflict zones in Iraq, Lebanon, India, Palestine, Israel, and Egypt. She has taught Performance and Peacebuilding and Socially Engaged Theatre in Turkey, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Scotland, England and Italy and across the U.S. Her doctoral dissertation and subsequent research explore the use of theatre as a vehicle for change using the modalities of H.E.A.T. (healing, education, activism and theatre). She spent eight years running a company for at-risk youth The New Generation Theatre Ensemble ( She has conducted workshops and seminars for The Global Mobility Symposium, The World Economic Forum, Performing The World, the North American Drama Therapy Association Conference, International Theatre Institute and The International Peace and Reach Association. Litwak is a core member of Theatre Without Borders. She is a Fulbright Specialist Scholar.