A forgotten European masterpiece, the final work of Werner Schwab, marking two decades since the great Austrian playwright’s untimely death. By Werner Schwab. Directed by Vanda Butkovic and Translated by Meredith Oakes.
Werner Schwab (1958-1994) was the undisputed star of German-speaking theatre who effortlessly rose to fame for his unique talent with language and his macabre, humorous, confrontational narratives. In only four years, he completed fifteen plays with Dead at Last, No More Air (Endlich tot, endlich keine luft mehr) being his last. Shortly after its completion he was found dead in his room following a New Year’s Eve drinking spree in 1994 at the age of only 35.
Just a Must specialise in bringing neglected European texts to the UK, and the English language premiere of this forgotten masterpiece follows their sell-out “post-dramatic” hit Sports Play by Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek. Dead at Last, No More Air, also known as a “theatre-extinction comedy”, is a brutal, irreverent and bizarrely comical piece about what happens when an emerging theatre production is sabotaged by outsiders. Following a dispute with the cast, the director replaces all the actors with pensioners from a nearby home for the elderly. At first compliant and polite, the ‘forgotten and dispossessed’ gradually start to question the director’s authority, leading to a ‘coup d’état’ where the theatre’s cleaning lady is selected as the group’s leader. Not everybody survives the new order.
Director Vanda Butkovic said: “Death at Last, No More Air is a comedy that puts a magnifying glass to the world of theatre in order to explore its relationship to reality and to power. Staging a Werner Schwab play in London is anything but an easy option for our company. Although renowned in the German speaking theatre world, he is virtually unknown in the UK. Nevertheless, I am certain that the play’s uncompromising critique of politics and culture expressed through Schwab’s distinct, biting humour and linguistic dexterity, will resonate with UK audiences and will offer a refreshing alternative perspective to the body of work performed in the current theatrical landscape.”
Just a Must was founded by producer Berislav Juraic and director Vanda Butkovic to introduce post-dramatic theatre in translation to British and international audiences. The company’s work focuses on showcasing exciting authors who have generally been neglected in the British and international performing arts arena. Productions include the English language premiere of Sports Play (2012 – 2014) by Elfriede Jelinek (UK and international tour), the UK premiere of Woman Bomb (2011) by Ivana Sajko (Tristan Bates Theatre) and first revival of Holy Mothers by Werner Schwab (2009). The company also co-produced Tom Lyall’s Defrag_ at Camden People’s Theatre.
Camden People’s Theatre is a central London space dedicated year-round to supporting early-career artists making new and innovative theatre. This year, it marks its twentieth birthday with a year-long strand of work called CPT@20, which includes: Passing the Baton, for which ten great theatre-makers CPT has supported in the past (e.g. Fevered Sleep, Robert Pacitti, Scottee, Chris Goode) select ten emerging artists to make work at CPT; a Festival of Gifts, inspired by the idea of the birthday present and exploring art, capitalism and the gift economy; and a 20/20 Vision Festival follows, asking artists to reflect on how the world has changed in the last two decades – and how it might change in the two to come. The venue is also fundraising towards the launch of their People’s Theatre Award, an all-new commission rewarding project proposals that best combine innovation with public appeal.
The Austrian Cultural Forum London promotes cultural contacts between the UK and Austria by organising events and supporting artists and projects in the fields of music, performing arts, visual arts, literature, film and science. The organisation provides a venue in central London for recitals, lectures, readings, film screenings, conferences and exhibitions, while also cooperating with various partners throughout the UK. The ACF London is the Cultural Section of the Austrian Embassy in London and offers free admission to all of its events, which are organised in cooperation with Austrian and Austrian-based artists. The ACF London arranges, initiates, facilitates and supports about 150 events per year, half of which take place at the ACF’s own premises at 28 Rutland Gate, in the heart of Knightsbridge.
Running Time: 1 hour 20 minutes | Suitable for 12+
Directed by Vanda Butkovic, Designed by Simon Donger, Dramaturgy: Diana Damian Martin, Translated by Meredith Oakes, Lighting design by Ana Vilar and Produced by Berislav Juraic
Supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum London
6-17 May Camden People’s Theatre, London
58-60 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 2PY
Tickets: £12, (£10 concs.)
0207 419 4841
30 May – 1 June The Warren, Brighton
Russell Place, Brighton BN1 2RU
£11 (£9.50 concs.)
07800 983 290
Monday 24th March 2014