Beard * The Čapek Brothers * The Fools'
Journey * The Kabbalah *
Intrusion * Mephisto&Pheles *
Asylum Seekers in Heaven * Karel Kryl *
Struggle of the Magicians
That's me. My name is Voyen Koreis. I used to write it with a "j" instead of "y", until I found out what a tongue-twister it was, and how mangled my name usually came out when an English-speaker attempted to pronounce it. Yet, the remedy was there and it was easy! All it took was swapping these two letters.
My mother's tongue was Czech, and English is my second language. For more than forty years I've been living in Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia. Thhe basic information about my person could be found here.
Wonder why I use Hieronymus Bosch's paintings, as well as some other Dutch artist's of the period, for backgrounds in these pages?
Firstly, I like these guys! Apart from that, I think that Bosch and his followers have a lot to say to us and to our society.
Meetings With Remarkable People also known as My Beard,
is my autobiography. It begins with my birth in London ─ my father was a diplomat, and he fought as a major with the Allied Forces ─ continues with my early childhood spent mostly on the road. There follows my youth, and the life as singer/actor, which meant meeting many people from the entertainment industry, some known already, others about to become familiar names in the Czech households. After the advent of Soviet troops invading the country in 1968, I had moved back to England, but eventually migrated to Australia, where I have been living for more than forty years. In my life I have met with some people who became famous in that part of the world where I grew up, and some who made it amongst the antipodeans. One or two names familiar to nearly everybody in the world. And a scattering of characters known only to a few, but no less remarkable. Because every one of us is a unique human being!
The Čapek Brothers
It is virtually impossible to think of anyone culturally more important and also more prominent in the country that was then known as Czechoslovakia, between the WW1 and WW2, than the Čapek brothers. While Karel Čapek was always better known of the two, Josef was never too far behind, and when not directly involved he often appears to have been the inspiration behind the works his younger brother wrote. As is the case even with the play R.U.R., which had made Karel internationally famous, in a sense even immortal — where Josef was apparently responsible for just one thing — the invention of the word “robot”
When in 1939 Czechoslovakia was finally taken over by the Nazi troops, one of the first trips of the arresting officers was to the door of the Čapek brothers‘ residence. They walked away with only one prisoner however, as the younger brother Karel had died several months earlier. Josef Čapek very nearly saw the end of the war, but sadly when the Allied Armies had freed the prisoners in the Begren-Belsen concentration camp on the 15th April 1945, he was not among them. According to the witnesses, Čapek was still alive several days before, but apparently had died, either of typhus or pneumonia, shortly before their arrival. His body was never identified…
This site is dedicated to these two remarkable people.
At the tender age of 18 I had appeared on the amateur stage in the title role of the Karel Čapek play Loupežník ─ The Robber. A little later I had played one of the lesser characters on the professional stage. About half a century later, in 2008 I had made a translation of this play into English. It was published together with the author’s much better known play R.U.R. (well-known especially for introducing the word "robot"), which I have also translated. However, while the latter has had a number of translations over the years by various authors, some of them also very recent, The Robber, as I named the main character then, had practically no international exposure at all. Nevertheless, it continues to be very popular with the Czech audiences and there appears to be at least one new production each year in the country’s major theatres.
This intrigued me. It occurred to me, would this play, completely reworked and set in the present time Queensland, be acceptable to the Australian audiences? The main conflict, after all, is a timeless and archetypal one ─ the establishment against the rebellious youth! The action takes place in a small Queensland township, once a much larger and flourishing gold mining town, which has now almost become a ghost town. Professor Simonides, who heads a department at the University in Brisbane, had once bought a block of land there, probably for next to nothing, on which he had built a two-storey house. The house, on the fringes of the sleepy town, has been built like a fortress. The professor uses it as a retreat for himself and his family, and perhaps intends to move there permanently on his retirement. But a intruder into his and other people's lives changes everything!
Mephisto & Pheles
A comedy on the Faustian theme, with some recorded music from Gounod’s opera Faust. Three Hell’s trouble-shooters use modern methods of marketing, including computers, mobile phones and Viagra. Mephisto really wants to be a poet, his immaculately born twin brother Pheles is a compulsive computer games player, while former prostitute Brigitte is a probationary she-devil. Trying to find the final solution to the ‘Faust problem’, they end up as asylum seekers in Heaven. Things never go quite the way they were intended to. Mephisto falls in love with Faust’s maidservant Siebel, an innocent virgin girl. Brigitte, who poses as Marguerite or Meg, is pretending to be a lesbian to frustrate Faust, who wants to seduce her. Faust, who wants to be an immortal literary character, is having continuous problems, not only trying to bed the politically correct Meg, but also with the Viagra and mobile phone, both of which he had earned as a bonus for signing up his soul. There are four male and three female roles in the play, requiring however only three male and two female actors.
Asylum Seekers in Heaven
This humoristic novel has had several incarnations and has drawnfrom several sources. Obvious is the one on which the writers like Marlow, Goethe and many others have latched in their versions, some of which are mentioned in the text. Another source of inspiration came from the Czech fairy tales. Yet another was a stage play, musical comedy, which I have seen many years ago in Prague. The first version of my rendition of the Faust story was a radio play
Over the years, many have called Karel Kryl the Czech Bob Dylan! The label could perhaps fit, but only loosely, as there are a few not insignificant differences. The main one that comes to mind is that the protest song writers and singers, like Dylan, have scarcely ever had the opportunity of looking down the barrels of guns of real tanks, driven by the physically manifested enemies, by the wolf that had “the innocent lamb desired“. This is how it can be found in the text of the song Kryl wrote and recorded on the day of invasion in August 1968, by the armies of Warsaw Agreement of Czechoslovakia. Kryl had, as did I. The song he composed that night was played on air by the defiant Czech moderators, and as a result Kryl had become famous overnight!.
©Voyen Koreis 2016 All rights reserved
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