Today, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of an unforgettable actress Hana Grissová, who was among the most significant personalities of the Drama Company of the State Theatre for more than three decades. Her fans had a chance to enjoy her theatrical art in more than 140 theatre characters and sixty films. As a regional actress she did mostly supporting roles in films, but experts agreed that film and TV have never managed to use her great talent in full.
At the beginning, a native of Nitra presented her talent in an amateur theatre ensemble Detvan. Her presence in the ensemble later helped her to become a member of Slovak Folks Theatre in Nitra in 1939. Following a short engagement in Slovak Theatre in Prešov where she did also a prompter, she joined The National Theatre in Košice in 1950. Director Janko Borodáč then cast her in the first Slovak adaptation of The Chimes of the Kremlin by Nikolai Pogodin.
She was employed with the Drama Company until her retirement in 1981, but she did several characters even after that. She gradually profiled herself as a comic and later especially tragic-comic theatre actress. “… the figures that laugh through tears and make audience laugh are the closest to me. I like tragic-comic situations. I prefer them to those filled with great humour,” said Hana Grissová about her acting.
“She was able to breath diverse colours into her characters, nobleness if so needed or even rusticity of peasant women or true optimism of commoners. So she did as Gypsy woman in Lúpežník or Pulcheria Alexandrovna in Crime and Punishment. Her mother figures in The White Disease, Andorra or The Gamekeeper’s Wife are just unforgettable. Hana’s probably strongest side, tragicomedy, was not fully applied in the theatre. Perhaps due to its dramaturgy. She masterfully depicted comic side of feminine aging as Martha Brewster in the comedy Arsenic and Old Lace. Though her film roles were mainly supporting, they were unforgettable. She debuted in Štvorylka (1955) which is a part of The Golden Fund of Slovak Cinematography. Her later films are Skleníkova venuša or O sláve a tráve,” wrote journalist Miroslava Hriadeľová in Hana’s obituary published in Korzár daily twenty years ago (June 2001). And here are the memories of Hana by another legendary Košice actor Ján Bzdúch: “Someone counted that I’ve done 290 theatre characters and many of them I did with Hana. One play stands out in my mind. Filan’s A bolo svetlo where she did bar maiden and I did electrician who comes to a small village to install electricity. It was a huge success, also in Bratislava. And the adaptation was then even taken over by television. I also admired her persistence. From a prompter’s pit she worked her way up to a leading actress.”