Boris Hybner – we’re crying and laughing at once
“How do they call you? They call me Bobo at home. Every great artist wrote his notes in a Moleskine – write a diary! You must do something for love, it’s wonderful when you think about just one person, out of the seven billions! FFD – give the audience a fleeting feeling of dominance. I hate when people laugh through their noses.” On 11 November 2011 – the day when Jiří Kaftan, mime and member of the ensemble of Pantomime at Na zábradlí theatre, died – we were to open the performance MIM SESSION in Reduta. That night there were Boris Hybner, Radim Vizváry, Miřenka Čechová, Tomsa Legierski, Vojta Švejda and other students from HAMU performing. Boris had just come with the sad news about Mr Kaftan’s death and so the performance was meant to be dedicated to him. But as no tickets had been sold in advance, the show was cancelled. We were all silent and Boris said (I have it in the diary): “F*ck it. This is helplessness. Again… capitalism.” He left and met the 15 spectators marking their time at Národní třída. And now he’s gone forever. Thank you, professor – Bobo.
I belong to the generation of theatre critics who observed, with affection and admiration, the mime and pantomime work of their peers – B. Hybner, B. Polívka and C. Turba. I think I have quite a legitimate impression that over the years I have fulfilled this relationship with lexicographic works, reviews, studies. The last time, in Boris’s case, I provided text and editing to his book, an already sold-out edition of Hybneriáda aneb Boris červený a černý (Hybneriade or Boris Red and Black). It was published as a limited edition by the HAMU publishers in 2011 on occasion of Hybner’s 70th birthday. I cannot, unfortunately, go on with my critical thoughts. What remains is to look closer at personal relations but these are not the warmest between critics (if they are real critics) and artists. It was on occasion of the premiere of Harakiri when Boris said, with juvenile vehemence, that critics are just riders without horses; I suppose he kept this opinion for the rest of his life but he didn’t say it aloud. He appreciated personal feedback and reactions. For him, the right thing was what he did and what he decided to do. Like every strong artistic personality he was captivated by his own way of doing things. After many years of performing, his experience of rises and falls grew into an attitude of a man who never gave up and hid his pain under a mask of ever-lasting optimism. What did we have in common? Love for theatre and pantomime. The endeavour to preserve this unique art and pass it on – to the next generation and to audiences. That’s where our mutual tolerance, understanding and trust were born. Ladislava Petišková When the Alfred Jarry Pantomime was dismissed, Boris ship-wrecked in Prague and had nothing to do. I ended up on our ‘mother ship’ at Na Provázku theatre. We thought Boris could join us on board, we would have all liked to welcome him there. And so we did – Boris came to Brno! He stayed in our flat at 12, Jánská St. and we started to work on a new performance. We had the theme already. We were so much into it and after a couple of days Boris moved from the kitchen to the living room, closer to my bedroom, so when I had an idea it was easier to share it. Soon we had the structure done. And we carried on! Boris moved to our bedroom and my beloved Stáňa moved to the living room. At nights we worked best, we were so absorbed in it! We were lying in the double bed, dictating to each other, shouting, cheering up and laughing hard. Stáňa moved to the kitchen where we could be heard less. After several noisy nights the show was ready. And we could start rehearsing and Boris could sign a contract with our theatre. But he had to go back to Prague where he had forgotten his ID. I walked him to the train. I waved him goodbye. And Boris never came back. The show was cancelled. And my marriage was saved. P. S.: We were writing under the brand-name HP. May the horse force be with us. Bolek Polívka
Mime, actor, author, screenwriter, gagman, clown, batman, balniaya sabaka, smoker, devastatingly abstaining alcoholic, surrealist, dandy with a cap, jeans dude, bohemian, crazy bouffon, merry docent, rebelling professor, incurable dreamer, big Rolling Stones fan, guitar player admiring blues, coffee companion, optimistic stomic, womaniser, non-driver but passionate passenger, spouter of ideas, cumulator of thoughts, original film gagman, tireless friend, open person, master of life twists and turns, CD owner, expert in American silent slap-stick movies, disciple of Chaplin and Keaton, teacher of 150 mimes and theatre people, joker, reader, hitch-hiker, funny man, traveller, writer, question-asker, phone talker, iMac-er, melanchologist, non-deliverer, naive man, soul-mate, father and coffee-maker. All this is Boris. I lived through all this with him when we were saving the Czech pantomime, Alfred Jarry Pantomime is not dead!!! Števo Capko Translation: Tereza Cigánková Author: Kateřina Votočková, student of the Department of Pantomime at HAMU