Journey through the Creation of Adapt! - Aneta and Lenka: Adapting to America, Routine, and Hot Dogs
An Actress's Notebook by Krista Apple
If you’ve seen Adapt!, you’ve met Aneta Kernova. She plays the title role of young Lenka, a refugee from Czechoslovakia who’s making her way to America.
Onstage, Aneta’s Lenka is full of curiosity about her future, and full of outrage toward the Communist regime that took hold of her country. She stares in disbelief at the wild fantasias shown to her about the fall of communism; she mourns her family, bravely standing by her sacrifices. And when Lenka finds her way to America, she eats and enjoys lots and LOTS of hot dogs. (Which requires some acting on Aneta’s part…. it turns out she hates hot dogs!....)
Aneta and me in Adapt! Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
Audiences love Aneta’s youthful, ethereal performance. There is a transparency to her work that makes her the perfect leading lady to watch… and to work with.
Offstage, Aneta is infinitely playful, and every bit as curious as the character she plays. She’s got this polaroid camera that goes everywhere with her; you never know when she’s going to snap a candid shot for posterity, or just for fun. (DEFINITELY check her out on instagram!) In her hometown of Prague, she’s also a film actor, producer and director; she is a model, a lover of animals, and has performed at the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre and the National Theatre in Oslo.
Now that the show is open and we’re all breathing again (kind of), Aneta and I stole a few minutes to chat about life and art across two continents.
Krista: What’s the best part about working in America?
Aneta: It’s being here with you all - you are so funny! - and also creating the role of Lenka, and being a part of this whole process. It’s been difficult but also so much fun..
What’s the most difficult part?
For me, it’s the English. I can never shake this feeling that I’m pretending something. It’s not my native language, so it’s a struggle to feel natural. I have a lot of text, and have to have a response for everything! … When I have no lines, that’s when I feel completely comfortable onstage. I’m not worried about finding the right tone or best meaning for the really big words. … But it’s hard to talk about the political situations [of the play] without the large vocabulary the play requires. But I’m happy also, with this struggle, because I’m learning.
Your family has had experiences similar to those in Adapt!, right?
Yes. Yes! One year, for example, we were renovating our house, and so we temporarily lived in an old dilapidated house like the one described in Adapt!. It was just one big room! So the family house I describe in the play …. it’s exactly the same! We had just one big bed and one table for everything.
I also had a grandfather who was arrested because he was a painter. I never met him, but he was a Slovak painter whose work was considered dangerous to the State, and so he was imprisoned. That feeling stays in a family.
The theatre performance schedule is different in America, yes?
In Prague we will perform a show for more than a year, but only a few performances a month. And they will be happening in repertory with other performances. So our schedules are never the same. We don’t have the routine that you have here. I HATE ROUTINE THE MOST…. so this is one of the hardest parts for me, too. For each day to be the same.
What do you miss most about Prague?
What will you miss most about Philadelphia?
I love the high rise buildings. I recently visited the observatory [at One Liberty Place]… it’s so beautiful….
…. And so, dear reader, don’t miss Aneta’s beautiful performance in Adapt!. We run through April 22, and we hope to see you at the show.
Aneta's polaroids from backstage with the cast of Adapt!