Free drama of popular protest rocks London stage

Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:17pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

(This story contains graphic language)

By Barbara Lewis

LONDON (Reuters) - The spirit of the Arab Spring has found theatrical expression, with the help of one of Britain's celebrated iconoclasts, at a venue next door to the capital's mayor.

Mark Ravenhill, made famous by his 1990s debut play "Shopping and Fucking," has written a modernized version of German playwright Bertolt Brecht's "The Mother," which examines an early 20th-century protest that has taken on contemporary force.

In keeping with Brecht's popularism, there is no entry charge and by the end of the season on September 4, this fable of uprising against oppressive authority will have been performed to more than a quarter of a million people for free.

"There is renewed interest in what happens when people protest and demonstrate," Ravenhill told Reuters of his decision to revive the play.

Ravenhill's first play Shopping and Fucking stirred controversy because of its sexually violent content, but was hailed for its expose of rampant consumerism and as a prime example of the British "in-yer-face-theater" of the 1990s.

Since then, he has worked on a range of projects, including sell-out performances at this summer's Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, and he is writing a libretto for an opera to be staged in Oslo.

For Ravenhill, Brecht has particularly wide resonance and could speak to the Middle Eastern and North African countries that have protested against their governments, beginning with uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt at the start of this year.   Continued...