This past August, Czech-based theatre troupe Farm in the Cave performed its show Sclavi / The Song of an Emigrant at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the UK, earning a number of awards (check out, for example, the Financial Times review). The show premiered in Prague in March 2005, and will run in Vienna this June.
The show comes straight out of Rusyn culture and history: Putting the show together, the theatre traveled to Eastern Slovakia to collect field research – they gathered songs, testimonies and letters from emigrants from the Rusyn communities who live in that region.
And main plot was drawn from Josef Čapek's Hordubal (read the first chapter here, in .pdf from Catbird Press), a novella about a Rusyn who leaves the homeland to find his fortune in America. When he returns, he finds he cannot reintegrate into society:
“He will always be an emigrant. The Latin word ‘sclavi’ denotes both Slavs and slaves. Until today, Slavs remain a source of cheap labour. The ‘bare life’ of an emigrant entails more than life with no rights and identity, life reduced to material needs. The ‘bare life’ is a soulless one, without the background of social network” (from the Farm in the Cave press release).
The Farm in the Cave troupe is made up of Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainains and Serbs. Sclavi was created in cooperation with Prague’s Svandovo Theatre and DAMU, and Wroclaw’s Grotowski Center. The musical director of Sclavi was Marjana Sadowska. A number of the songs featured in the show can be downloaded here.