The Increased Difficulty of Concentration

9/17/2007 | By: Staff Report  |

Delivering theatre at its finest, Nevada Repertory Company at the University of Nevada, Reno opens its celebratory 35th anniversary 2007-08 season with Václav Havel's hilarious farce, "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration," translated from the Czech by Vera Blackwell. Directed by Bob Dillard, Nevada Repertory Company's performances of "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration" will be held Sept. 28, 29, Oct 3, 4, 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee Oct. 7 at 1:30 p.m., at the University of Nevada, Reno's Redfield Studio Theatre in the Church Fine Arts Building.

Playwright, political dissident and three-time OBIE award winner Václav Havel is perhaps best known as leader of the Czech resistance to the crumbling Soviet Union in the 70's and 80's. He survived repeated arrests and spent several years in prison for his "subversive" activities.

After the collapse of communism, he was elected president of Czechoslovakia and the resultant Czech Republic. With such a sobering background, he might seem an unlikely source for "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration," a raucous farce rife with the ridiculous and ribald.

According to director Bob Dillard, however, it is precisely Havel's political background that enables him to create an uproariously funny farce with a multi-layered texture that hints at darker sociopolitical themes.

The play is primarily a knockabout farce, but there are elements echoing Havel's past as a political dissident, "his imprisonment, his mistrust of Soviet authority," Dillard said. "I hope the audience will have a good time laughing at the absurdist comedy, but at the same time be aware that ominous forces may be lurking."

According to Dillard, "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration" is at the same time a sci-fi fantasy, a re-creation of life under an oppressive regime, a racy sex-farce and an example of Theatre of the Absurd characterized by a feeling of uncertainty heightened by the play's non-linear structure and a bizarre talking robot prone to frequent malfunctions.

"The chronology is totally haywire. You're never sure if the scene you're watching is taking place in the past, present or future, or if it's happened before in a different way," he said.

The play's hero, Dr. Huml, has a nagging wife, a demanding mistress, an alluring secretary, and a female colleague who bears more than passing resemblance to the overripe plums in Huml's kitchen. To this messy málange, Havel adds three mad scientists and a computer with disturbing human frailties, begging the standard question of classic theatrical farce: What could possibly go wrong?

Although Dillard says Havel is better known among the general public in the United States as a statesman, freedom fighter, former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic and friend to former President Bill Clinton than as a writer, the OBIE award-winning playwright is greatly admired in Europe and among theatre professionals throughout the world.

"If you want to see your plays performed as you wrote them, become president." Václav Havel.

For more about Nevada Repertory Company at the University of Nevada, Reno, visit:

Season tickets available. Individual tickets: Opening weekend special $13; mid-week special (Wed. and Thurs.) $15; adults $17; seniors, children and students $15.

Individual tickets are available (without a convenience fee) at Lawlor Events Center, 1500 N. Virginia St., Reno, lower level entrance, Mon.-Fri. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sat. from 10 a.m. to 1 pm. or at the Church Fine Arts Building box office on campus, one hour prior to performances. Tickets are available (with a convenience fee) online at, or by calling 1-(800) 225-2277.

Free parking is available after 6:30 p.m. in the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex north of the Church Fine Arts Building and in the Sierra Street Garage one block west of Virginia Street between 11th Street and College Drive. There is also a convenient patron drop-off outside the Church Fine Arts Building on North Virginia Street.

For additional performance, gallery and arts events or to order a copy of the University of Nevada, Reno's arts365 Calendar, visit the arts365 Calendar website at, call (775) 784-4ART or 1-(800) 233-8928, or email

Funding for Nevada Repertory Company at the University of Nevada, Reno is provided in part by the City of Reno.


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