There’s no need to introduce Simona Stašová to the Czech public. This amazing theatre and film actress has left countless impressions on each of us. The daughter of the famous actress Jiřina Bohdalová has a lot of achievements under her belt, but she remains modest and prefers to leave it on the audience to judge her. Like many people, she was also affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In an interview for LP-Life.com, Simona talked not only about her parents, but also about her pets, theatre, humility for life and plans for better tomorrows.
It's been a year since we’ve been living with the coronavirus. You’d been looking forward to the year 2020 in terms of theatre. Could you describe the year 2020, how you spent it, how much it affected your plans, your life? What did the year take from you and what did it give you.
I always try to look at the bright side of things. There’s no point in describing what the coronavirus took from me. I have a family in Sweden and Italy and every day I see and hear that they are in exactly the same situation as we are in the Czech Republic. There have been other diseases here in our little country, and healthcare or drug research weren’t quite as advanced as they are today, so I know that we will get over this and that things will take a turn for the better.
You overcame covid yourself, thank God in the lighter form - were you scared? Are you still afraid of the virus, of his mutations? Will you get vaccinated?
I had the disease in September, the sun was still shining at that time and, right after the first attack, I put a duvet in a chair on the balcony and spent my recovery time there whenever possible. I instinctively felt that the sun was a great doctor and I knew that vitamin D helped when suffering from this disease. Clearly, I did well because, although I had difficulty breathing, I didn't have to go to the hospital. As soon as it is announced that people over 65 can apply for vaccination, I will do so. For years, people have been getting vaccinated for so many diseases, some of which have been virtually eradicated thanks to vaccination, that it goes without saying.
What about your parents? You didn't allow your mother to leave the house at all, I bet she's already been vaccinated. What does your family life look like now?
My father will be 93 years old on July 1 and my mother will turn 90 on May 3. Both have received the second dose of the vaccine and are doing well. My dad has recently congratulated me on my 66th birthday in an original way: "Simona, I congratulate you on the fact that your soon-to-be 93-year-old dad can wish you all the best for your 66th birthday. You're a lucky one.” That's the most beautiful birthday wish I could have asked for. Dad's right and I'm fully aware of that.
We have to wait a while longer, because when theaters open, everything else will already be in full swing. It’s clear to me that we are in the last place in the line of people waiting to get their lives back. When the spectators are able to enter the auditorium, it will be a clear sign that we have won. I'm looking forward to it. In the meantime, I repeat my lines in all the 9 plays that I have in my repertoire every month, so that I wouldn’t get out of practice and so that I wouldn’t be weak in the knees when the beautiful moment comes and we can perform in front of the audience again. And come it will, so I'm very motivated.
I’ve prepared a new comedy with young people, I have studied it thoroughly, it is a magical story, touching, humorous, deep, but I am a realist and I will keep it for next year. I like to work with drive, which means rehearsing like crazy for three or four months and then going in front of the audience, whether in Prague or across the Czech Republic, and honing the play to perfection with the audience as a partner, factoring in their reactions. That's why I'll wait for a more convenient time. You can write on the shelf if you’re a playwright, but it is very difficult to rehearse a performance without testing the audience's reaction at the dress rehearsals when your work is finished. It's possible, but it's not the same. I'll wait, I'm prepared.
Last year you rehearsed a comedy Na Zlatém jezeře (On the Golden Lake) with your colleague Ladislav Frej. You say it's a play about old age and youth, about how they need each other - who is your "younger" impulse? How do you view today's young people compared to your youth without, for example, the Internet?
Young people give us older people energy and the desire to move on. We see ourselves in them, we see ourselves when we were young and lived as though we were immortal. We shouldn’t try to take that feeling from them. I really like to surround myself with young people, and when they accept me, in all honesty, it's an honour for me. When my younger son asks me to go play a board game with his friends, sit down with them and have a chat, then it’s the biggest gift for me and a confirmation that they want to spend their free time with me. Unfortunately, it’s possible at this time, and that’s what the coronavirus took away from me. But I have something to look forward to again because I know I will do my best to make them want to invite me into their young circle in the future.
I can't forget to mention that you look great for your age - can you give us some advice on how to keep looking fresh and fit after sixty?
One should never be lazy. That's probably what both my parents impressed upon me. Never to roll over and die. I always find something to enjoy, whether it's a good book, learning foreign languages, finding new theatre plays, walking the dogs, cycling, watching nice movies, exercise… Anything but sitting on the sofa in despair. As they say‚ don’t throw in the towel. Have a plan for each day. That’s probably the best kind of fuel and recipe for slowing down ageing.
My two dogs; when we go to my mother, she now has a three-month-old dwarf dachshund Růženka. She’s a tiny, cute thing. The way the three of them play together is better than a stage play; one can never grow bored of it. We see in their heads, we see what they think, how jealous they are of each other, how they run around the room until the playing tires them out, how one stops having fun and the other keeps poking him, urging him to keep playing, how they hide in front of each other, all the facial expressions they’ll able to pull, how they smile. It's simply awesome and I'm very happy that we have three dogs in the family. My son and his girlfriend, on the other hand, bought a cat, and that’s also an enjoyable show, completely different from when it’s only the dogs fooling around. I always thought that dogs and cats couldn’t stand each other, but that's not true. We can see clearly that cats are wild beast and dogs are domestic derps, so of course, the cat has the upper hand, everything must be the way she likes it. Having a pet at home is extremely comforting for the human soul. Somehow it makes us understand life and its laws much better.
You know, I’d rather leave this rating to the viewers. Once I’ve made a movie or a TV show, it starts living its own life, I don't have much in common with it anymore. It's great when someone on television is pleased with a rerun of a film when it gives them something, they think about it, have a laugh… But I can't do anything about it anymore, I can't improve it in any way. Theatre is something completely different, more valuable to me, albeit fleeting. Unlike film, theatre is a living organism that constantly evolves, thanks to me on stage and thanks to the spectator in the auditorium. I can correct my mistakes during the next reprise, I feel what the spectators enjoy and what they enjoy less, where I’ve pulled them in and where I’ve lost them, we see each other, and that's why I love theatre. It’s about sharing emotions and thoughts and the spectator is a co-creator of such a performance. If life never allowed me to go back on stage anymore, a piece of me would be lost forever.
Recently, you and Lenka Hatašová have done a photoshoot for Pelíšky after 21 years - what was it like? What have you been discussing, which memories have you brought up?
First of all, we met the whole Šebkovic family after many years, and for a while, we returned to that atmosphere of twenty-one years ago. It was like when a beautiful old emotion comes back to you and you feel like remembering all the details and tiny things from the life you had back then. Once again, Míra Donutil and I felt like parents whose children had grown up and were telling us everything they had experienced during the time we hadn’t seen each other. Long after the photos had been taken, Lenka Hatašová and I were still sitting and drinking coffee - we didn't want to go home. It was a wonderful meeting that all of us will certainly carry in our hearts for the rest of our lives.
Finally - what are you looking forward to this year? Imagine that we return to life as we know it in the summer. What will be the first thing you do? Where will you go? Who will you meet?
Most importantly, I’ll get back on stage, and I’ll be fully aware of the fact that nothing in life is guaranteed, and that life is fragile and can change in a matter of seconds. I will definitely appreciate that ordinary normal life more.