The Memo
by Vortex Summer Youth Theatre

Apr. 20 - May. 31 (2023)

This sharp satire parodies the merry-go-round of governmental bureaucracy in communist Czechoslovakia yet remains relevant to our lives today.

Václav Havel wrote The Memo in 1965 as an ironic satire dissenting against communist rule. Despite its veiled themes, the play was approved by government censors and published. This 2012 translation by Paul Wilson brings contemporary resonance to Havel’s play, also known as The Memorandum. Havel was eventually imprisoned for his political activities from 1979-1983. He went on to become the final president of Czechoslovakia in 1989 and then the first democratically-elected president of the Czech Republic in 1993. The Memo is broadly considered Václav Havel’s masterpiece.


[2016 photo from Václav Havel Literary Foundation  -]

The VORTEX seeks students ages 13-17 to participate in Summer Youth Theatre 2023 (SYT). Now in its thirty-first year, this award-winning, tuition-free program rehearses and performs evenings and weekends June-July. Rehearsals culminate in a full production of The Memo (also known as The Memorandum) by Václav Havel, presented to the public July 21-29, 2023. This sharp satire parodies the merry-go-round of governmental bureaucracy in communist Czechoslovakia yet remains relevant to our lives today.


Students of any ethnicity, gender, ability/disability, economic background, and experience level are welcome to audition to be a part of an ensemble of diverse youth who train together as they rehearse and perform this stylish satire. 


Summer Youth Theatre cultivates the tools of theatre: teamwork, focus, discipline, precision, communication, and artistry. In addition to the rigorous rehearsal process, students participate in creating the production (sets, props, costumes, lights, etc.) with hands-on workdays, and theatre professionals mentor students in Saturday masterclasses.


AUDITION/INTERVIEWS will be scheduled for May 13, 24, and 31: By appointment at

  1. Please submit an application online or by mail.

  2. Prepare a memorized, one-minute monologue from a play.

  3. A parent/guardian is required to attend the interview.


Students interested in design and technical theatre should also apply for an interview.



To set up audition/interview time, email


ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Jelena Stojiljkovic Rhynes is an accomplished actor, voiceover actor, choreographer, puppeteer, and director. She received a Masters in Theater Arts in Serbia, where she worked and lived before moving to Austin. She led drama and dance workshops with people with disabilities and is one of the founders of "Off frame/Van okvira,” the Serbian Regional Festival of Socially Engaged Theater. She was one of four dancers from Serbia in the French Cirque Nouveau project with “Care Blanc,” combining contemporary dance with circus skills. After over 25 years of theatre work in Serbia, she made her U.S. debut in The VORTEX’s 2018 production of Atlantis: A Puppet Opera. Also at The VORTEX, she stage managed Selfie! The Musical and SYT’s Pandemdem Edition: Another Great Depression. At Scottish Rite Theatre, she directed Jungle Book and stage managed Treasure Island On The Bay of Bengal, Little Red Chunari, and Judy Moody & Stink: Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt. She performed in Pippi Longstocking and was assistant director and choreographer for Sunflower, an original musical about the story of Amalie and Vincent van Gogh. Jelena is passionate about the inclusion of vulnerable groups and about socially-engaged theatre. 


ABOUT THE VORTEX’S SUMMER YOUTH THEATRE: Since 1991, SYT has provided high-caliber theatrical productions to Austin audiences as the jewel of VORTEX’s educational and community engagement. The Austin Chronicle named SYT “Best Theatre for Kids That Treats Kids Like Grownups.” 2021’s Pandemdem Edition received the B. Iden Payne Award for Jessica Cohen’s Outstanding Original Song. Nominated for dozens of local awards, SYT has received B. Iden Payne Awards for productions of youth theatre for The Commedia of Errors and Machinal; direction of youth theatre for The Commedia of Errors, The Physicists, Moby Dick, and The Frogs; acting in youth theatre for The Physicists and Moby Dick; and sound design for youth theatre for Machinal. Every year, students work with adult artists who are among Austin’s most celebrated theatre professionals. Bonnie Cullum, Producing Artistic Director of The VORTEX, founded SYT in 1991; she was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame in 2009.


Summer Youth Theatre students receive instruction in theatre arts that is equivalent to 3 credits under the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Fine Arts, Theatre Levels 117.64, 65, 66, 67. The SYT program teaches students ages 13-17 and spans grades 6-12 (middle and high school). By TEKS standards, this program is equivalent to or higher than High School Theatre Arts II, Technical Theatre I, and Theatre Production II. The VORTEX has developed this curriculum over thirty years.


Summer Youth Theatre 2023 is funded and supported in part by VORTEX Repertory Company, Six Square Austin’s Black Cultural District, a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts, and by the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Sponsorships and community donations also help keep this program tuition-free. To support Summer Youth Theatre as a donor, contact


The VORTEX Mission: We conjure urgent, unashamed art to create action in a shifting age. We embrace diverse communities, break down barriers, and elevate inclusive discourse from our cultural harbor in Austin, Texas. We enliven humanity with magical green new theatre at our Butterfly Bar and Sanctuary.


The VORTEX Core Values: Our core values are encompassed by the Pentacle of Integrity: Transformation, Magic, Community, Diversity, and Earth. Integrity lives at our core. We engage in radical transformation through edge-walking artistic creations and innovations. Magic emanates from our cultural harbor, engaging Spirit. Our space and our culture support expanding circles of inclusive community. Our art reflects diversity of people and voices from the global majority. Sustainability and environmentalism center Earth at our foundation.