Vaclav Havel: Artist And Freedom Fighter

The politics, life and vision of the great Vaclav Havel, artist and freedom fighter.

Vaclav Havel, nominated for the Presidency reads out the names of Czechoslovakia’s first non-communist Government since 1948. Thousands of people gathered on Sunday, Dec. 10, 1989 in Prague’s infamous Wenceslas Square to bare witness to the success of their peaceful revolution. (AP)

Vaclav Havel, nominated for the Presidency reads out the names of Czechoslovakia’s first non-communist Government since 1948. Thousands of people gathered on Sunday, Dec. 10, 1989 in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to bare witness to the success of their peaceful revolution. (AP)

The great Czech artist, playwright, dissident, president, freedom fighter, philosopher Vaclav Havel died Sunday at 75. For anyone who lived through fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, Vaclav Havel was a hero of dizzying dimensions.

The playwright in prison who insisted on the moral and real power of the powerless. Who earned real power as Czechoslovakia’s president in the Velvet Revolution. Who laughed and told the whole world that truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.

This hour On Point: the life and vision of Vaclav Havel.

-Tom Ashbrook


Oldřich Černý, is the Executive Director of both the Forum 2000 Foundation and the Prague Security Studies Institute.

Carol Rocamora, the founder of the Philadelphia Festival theatre for New Plays and is currently on the faculty of the Tisch School of the Arts in New York University. She is the author of Acts of Courage: Vaclav Havel’s Life In The Theatre.

Michael Meyer, is currently Director of Communications for the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Between 1988 and 1992, he was Newsweek’s Bureau Chief for Germany, Central Europe and the Balkans, writing more than 20 cover stories on the break-up of communist Europe and German unification. He’s the author of The Year that Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall.


From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian “The former president of the Czech Republic was the epitome of a dissident because he persisted in his struggle, patiently, non-violently, with dignity and wit.”

Project Syndicate “PRAGUE – I recently read an article entitled “Politics as Theatre,” a critique of all that I have tried to do in politics. It argued that in politics, there is no place for a realm as superfluous as theatre. To be sure, in the early months of my presidency, some of my ideas demonstrated more theatrical flair than political foresight. But the author erred in one fundamental issue: he misunderstood both the meaning of theatre and a crucial dimension of politics.”

Project Syndicate “Aristotle once wrote that every drama or tragedy requires a beginning, a middle, and an end, with antecedent following precedent. The world, experienced as a structured environment, includes Aristotle’s inherent dramatic dimension, and theatre is an expression of our desire for a concise way of grasping this essential element. A play of no more than two hours always presents, or is meant to present, a picture of the world and an attempt to say something about it.”

Slate “Back in the early 1980s, when Poland was frozen under martial law and Czechoslovakia, as it was then still called, suffered under one of the stupidest of all of Communist regimes, the Polish dissidents and the Czech dissidents resolved to have a meeting. By separate routes, they made their way to their mutual border, high in the Tatra mountains. I once saw the photographs that were taken to mark this improbable occasion: a dozen blue-jeaned activists, veterans of Solidarity and Charter 77, grinning widely, toasting the camera, celebrating the fact that they had eluded their respective secret police services once again. It looked like a lot of fun.”


“Magicke noci” The Plastic People of the Universe
“Plastic People” Frank Zappa

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