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Ivan Vyskočil

27. 4. 1929 – 28. 4. 2023


Ivan Vyskočil, a writer, actor, psychologist, pedagogue, author and discoverer of the discipline Dialogical Acting with the Inner Partner, was born in 1929 in a quarter of Prague called Spořilov. That’s also where he gained his first experience with theatre and dramatic play and where he and Jiří Suchý organised several improvised cabaret performances between 1946 – 1947.


After graduating from the Academic Grammar School in Prague, he studied acting and directing at the Drama department of the Prague Conservatory, which was later transformed into the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU) in 1949. Among his pedagogues were Jiří Frejka, Otomar Krejča and Radovan Lukavský. After graduating from DAMU in 1952, Vyskočil continued his studies in psychology, pedagogy and philosophy at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University. There he met with Professor Jan Patočka, who later became his friend.


During his studies, Vyskočil worked as a freelance instructor in a psychiatric and correctional institution for morally disturbed adolescents. Later on, he taught as a freelance pedagogue in psychology and pedagogy at DAMU and cooperated in the research of some well-known Czech psychologists. Along with Hugo Široký, Vyskočil was among the first to experiment with psychodrama with Jakob Levy Moreno.


In 1957, he started to perform with Jiří Suchý in Reduta, a small theatre in Prague, with their ‘text-appeal’ series that launched the liveliest theatre program of the 1960s in former Czechoslovakia, the so called small form (or small stage) theatre movement. In the following year, Vyskočil co-founded the Theatre on the Balustrade, where he premiered five original performances he cooperated on as author (including Kdyby 1000 klarinetů, Autostop and Smutné Vánoce).


He left the theatre in 1962 to come back to Reduta and to the idea of a theatre as an experimental workshop. In 1963 Vyskočil, established Nedivadlo (Non-theatre), where he developed original poetics of narrative theatre and the idea of theatre as an open dramatic play for which exploring endless variation of word, situation and plot alternatives are characteristic. With Nedivadlo, Vyskočil organised several ‘text-appeal’ projects at Reduta (Poslední den, Křtiny ve Hbřbvích aneb Blbá hra and Meziřeči).


During the 1960s, some of Vyskočil’s experimental and absurd texts were published as literature (like Vždyť přece létat je snadné, Kosti, Malé hry, and Ivan Vyskočil a jiné povídky) and his radio plays were broadcasted (Návštěva čili návštěva, Příhoda, and Cesta do Úbic). However, after the Soviet occupation in 1968, Vyskočil was banned from publishing any of his work.


For Nedivadlo, the normalisation period practically meant leaving Reduta and retreating to an almost nomadic way of life. Together with other members of Nedivadlo (Otakar Roubínek, Barbora Hocková, Vlasta Špicnerová, Pavel Bošek, Přemysl Rut, Leoš Suchařípa and others), Vyskočil continued to explore possibilities of theatre-encounters and the theatre in statu nascendi (Nehraje se, Kurz, Rekurz kurzu, Evokace, etc.) and (not) playing his authorial pieces (Křtiny v Hbřbvích aneb Blbá Hra, HAPRDÁNS, and Cesta do Úbic) that belong among the pivotal manifestations of Czech alternative theatre during the normalisation period.


In 1968, Vyskočil led an event that can be considered the beginning of his continuous research of psychosomatic disciplines: an experimental workshop ‘in gibberish’ which he led with Roy Hart at an international psychology congress. Vyskočil continued to develop his research in psychosomatic disciplines from 1971 at Lidová škola umění, a school of arts open to the public, where he worked as a pedagogue. This is where the 1970s and 80s concepts of study and pedagogy of psychosomatic disciplines and authorial acting as an education towards becoming a conscious individual developed.


After 1989, Vyskočil and his closest colleagues from Lidová škola umění (Vítězslava Fryntová, Libuše Válková, Hana Smrčková) came to the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU). At that time, Vyskočil also cooperated with Czech television and radio, but his main interest was in pedagogy, at DAMU, where he was named a professor of acting in 1992. He founded his own department two years later, the Department of Authorial Creativity and Pedagogy, which still exists under the same name to this day. He was awarded the title doctor honoris causa at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno in 2005.


Vyskočil initiated the establishment of the Institute for Research into and Study of Authorial Acting, which he led between 2001–2019.

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Ivan Vyskočil in 1965

(photo by: Miloň Novotný)

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Ivan Vyskočil in 1982

(photo by: Oswald Schorm)

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I. Vyskočil, J. Suchý, P. Rut

(photo by: Dušan Dostál)

Ivan Vyskočil´s theoretical texts
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