Jiří Vydra: I wish poetics came back to art

The early baroque monument Valdštejnská lodžie in Jičín has become a cultural center of the region during the last six years. The castle manager Jiří Vydra has revived the building with scenic events inspired by traditions and displayed in the whole area. In addition to the regular musical and literary events, the Malá inventura festival takes place here. A large amount of spectators has convinced the Jičín municipality to further invest into the baroque building. The goal is to make its operation even more smooth and to enhance the visitors' comfort. We talked about the changes of the Lodžie and the life in it with the artistic director and the castle manager Jiří Vydra.

Lodžie has undergone a significant change in the last six years. Part of the building was reconstructed. What is the next step?
A short time ago we discussed a project of a theater hall with Radek Jiránek, an architect. The hall is situated in a north-eastern part of the Čestný dvůr. Despite its current temporary character, a whole range of events takes place there. Lodžie has served as a very specific cultural center for six years. However, we still cannot accept offers from the artists because we do not have sufficient background for them. I wish people from around the world could come here and work together. As long as the premises aren’t adjusted, Lodžie cannot fully serve as a cultural space. I really appreciate that the municipality has granted my wish and we are allowed to prepare the Theatron project.

What is the communication between you and the owner, that is the municipality?
I have to admit that the town of Jičín is very open to cultural activities if compared with other towns. The Valdštejnská lodžie should be grateful for such attention. On the other hand, the larger the projects, the more demanding the communication. Cultural artistic productions are put aside during the reconstruction process in spite of being the trigger of such change. I indeed understand that every object is limited during its reconstruction. Nevertheless, if the goal is to revitalize the premises of this monument, we cannot simply give up and wait until the firm completes its task.
What falls within the competence of the castle manager of the Valdštejnská lodžie?
Compared with the activities of the castle managers of other monuments, my position in the Valdštejnská lodžie is completely different. In addition to the characteristic castle manager work like the administration of the building, cooperation with authorities and coordination of its smooth running, I have many other duties. Lodžie has become a cultural center with the all-year dramaturgy created mainly by me. All the year round, I visit artists and prepare the productions with them. Moreover, I communicate with several non-profit organizations in Jičín, Prague or Jablonec nad Nisou. Furthermore, I coordinate either weekend or week-long international volunteer work camps with the organization called Tamjdem. Last but not least, my task is to take care of the overall promotion of Lodžie, including its graphics, information objects in the city or the production of multimedia contents.

What was your vision when you came to Lodžie?
For more than ten years prior to joining Lodžie I organized with my colleague Štěpánka Kašparová music concerts in Liberec and then I arranged the Worldfest festival at Grabštejn Castle. Later, I set up a civic association Divozemí, with which we organized various cultural events in the public space and run-down buildings such as an abandoned church or a nonfunctional spa. Thus I have gained a relation with organising of specific events in unconventional spaces and it has become my great desire to work in the long turn in some interesting building that I could revive.
Then I come across the offer to the open competition on the position of the Lodžie castle manager. I immediately recommended this position to all my friends. However, my friends told me it was a position precisely for me. And even though I did not want to leave Liberec, I have fulfilled my dream in Lodžie. Suddenly, I could be not only the dramaturgist and the artistic director, but I could focus on the graphics and the whole visual image of the project as well. Moreover, my desire to operate and create in a historic building, in an independent space that would allow to come up with tailor-made events has been fulfilled.

A big team of people is a must-have for successful realization of the performances. How such team works, according to your personal experience?
What is really a big phenomenon in Jičín is the strong desire of people to do something. It is unbelievable how big volunteer team has been established around me in Lodžie. Some of the volunteers have gradually become temporary workers or café employees. However, they all initially came with the desire to help. In my opinion it is very rare to dispose of such a strong base. I try to give everyone the opportunity to realize what he/she wishes. Everyone can choose the position he/she would like to try. Every Sunday, we meet and create events together. Maybe we're not a professional team, but it's important for me that the people do their work enthusiastically. And this is certainly imprinted in our work.

What has recently pleased you in the field of culture?
Within the festival Malá inventura in Prague I saw a performance Kračun created by a team of Apolena Vanišová, Petr Krušelnický and Dorka Bouzková. The performance, or the live installation if you prefer, was the real highlight of this year's festival for me. Its installation in a forgotten workshop in a dark courtyard somewhere in the bowels of the Letná houses was very impressive. The centerpiece of the whole performance was a poetic-diabolic multimedia object. I must say that I was literally enchanted by it. Another nice surprise was the Vedut project presented by the DAMU students. It’s hard to give it a name. It was an interactive object game formed by the imagination and the mood of a particular spectator. For me the word “imaginarium" perfectly reflects its character.

What, on the contrary, has disappointed you?
Apart from the endless disappointment resulting from the condition of some of the contemporary theater projects, I was deeply affected by the death of my favorite composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. The music of this Icelandic musical magician was and still is an endless inspiration for me while creating the scenic projects in Lodžie. In addition, this music has become a soundtrack of my life.

What are your wishes?
I wish the world calmed down and the poetry returned to art ...