Acclaimed theatre company The Faction celebrate the work of 18th-century German powerhouse Friedrich Schiller with a two-week festival showcasing his greatest plays and a line-up including Dame Eileen Atkins, Ciaran Hinds, Celia Imrie and Britain’s longest-serving theatre critic, the Guardian‘s Michael Billington.
The Faction’s first-ever SchillerFest, which runs from 31 October to 11 November 2017 at London’s Bunker Theatre, comprises an eclectic and exciting festival programme celebrating European powerhouse Friedrich Schiller with guest artists, academics, actors, adaptors, DJs, musicians, and singers in a line-up of theatre, opera, poetry and music that embraces Schiller’s revolutionary spirit.
“Live with your century but do not be its creature.”
Ciarán Hinds and Celia Imrie will be part of a panel of Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre artists celebrating the life and work of renowned Schiller translator Robert David MacDonald, who could speak eight languages fluently and “get by” in 22. They will read MacDonald’s version of Schiller’s William Tell in a company including Jane Bertish, Tom Burke, Rupert Farley, Peter Guinness, Mark Lewis, Gerrard McArthur, Jason Morell, Fidelis Morgan, Jonny Phillips, Sian Thomas and Yolanda Vasquez.
Eileen Atkins and Michael Billington will be in conversation about the way that Schiller, Shakespeare and Shaw portray the character of Joan of Arc. Atkins has played Shakespeare’s Joan in The Age of Kings and Shaw’s Saint Joan, but has never tackled Schiller’s The Main of Orleans. The talk will be followed by a one-woman show version of Joan of Arc performed by Kate Sawyer from The Faction.
“Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain”
Talawa Theatre Founder Carmen Munroe OBE will appear in the launch night event in a semi-staged reading of Schiller’s Fiesco. Munroe made her Shakespearean debut at the age of 83 in The Faction’s Richard III last year, and will next be seen on the West End reprising her role in the Almeida production of Schiller’s Mary Stuart. The Faction produced Fiesco in 2013, the first time the 234-year-old text had been presented in the UK.
Other SchillerFest highlights include
- an evening of aria and lieder exploring Schiller’s impact on the world of opera
- a reading of The Bride of Messina in the original German
- a party for Schiller on what would have been his 258th Birthday on 10 November
“The voice of the majority is no proof of justice”
The programme of events will cover the full canon of Schiller’s work, and each event features a semi-staged or rehearsed reading or performance of a Schiller text with a talk or discussion element from some leading Schiller experts including Professor Rüdiger Görner, Dr John Guthrie and Professor Lesley Sharpe, and leading verse dramatist Peter Oswald.
The festival is curated by Mark Leipacher and Rachel Valentine Smith, the Artistic Directors of The Faction, who won the Peter Brook Award in 2010 for their Schiller project.
Brush up your Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich (von) Schiller (1759-1805) was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright. His early plays were The Robbers (1781), Fiesco (1783), Intrigue and Love (1784) and Don Carlos (1787). In the last 20 years of his life, Schiller struck up a famous friendship with his already famous compatriot Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who persuaded him to return to drama. Together they founded the Weimar Theatre, which became Germany’s flagship theatre. Schiller’s late plays include Wallenstein (1800), The Maid of Orleans (1801), Turandot (1801), The Bride of Messina (1803), William Tell (1804) and Demetrius, which was unfinished when he died from tuberculosis at 45 on 9 May 1805.
- 31 October, 7.30pm, Festival Launch + FIESCO
- 1 November, 7.30pm, Robert David MacDonald celebration + WILLIAM TELL
- 2 November, 7.30pm, JOAN(s) OF ARC (with Eileen Atkins and Michael Billington)
- 3 November, 7.30pm, MARY STUART + Professor Lesley Sharpe
- 4 November, 2.30pm, WALLENSTEIN DAY
- 6 November, 7.30pm, DON CARLOS + Professor Rüdiger Görner + Peter Oswald
- 7 November, 7.30pm, INTRIGUE AND LOVE + post-show Q&A
- 8 November, 7.30pm, THE MAID OF ORLEANS + Schiller Our Contemporary
- 9 November, 7.30pm, TURANDOT
- 10 November, 7.30pm, DEMETRIUS + Schiller’s Birthday Party
- 11 November, 2.30pm, DIE BRAUT VON MESSINA (in German) + Directors’ talk
- 11 November, 7.30pm, THE ROBBERS + Dr John Guthrie