Complicité to present the World Premiere of ‘Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead’

International touring company Complicité has announced the World Premiere of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, based on Nobel Prize winning author Olga Tokarczuk’s novel of the same name.

Conceived and directed by Simon McBurney, the production will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 1 to 3 December 2022, before touring to  Bristol Old Vic (19 January – 11 February 2023), Oxford Playhouse (1-4 March 2023), London, Barbican (15 March – 1 April 2023), Nottingham Playhouse (4-8 April 2023), Coventry, Belgrade (18-22 April 2023), The Lowry, Salford Quays (25-29 April 2023), Grand Theatre, Luxembourg (10-12 May 2023), Theatre Amsterdam (1-3 June 2023), and Paris, Odeon (7-17 June 2023).

The darkly comic, anarchic noir caused a seismic reaction in Tokarczuk’s native Poland due to its defiant attack on authoritarian structures, with right-wing press branding the writer an ‘eco-terrorist’ and national traitor. The book was translated into English in 2018 by Antonia Lloyd-Jones for Fitzcarraldo Editions.

The story begins in the depths of winter in a small community on a remote Polish mountainside near the Czech-Polish border. Men from the local hunting club are dying in mysterious circumstances and Janina Duszejko – an eccentric 65 year-old local woman, ex-engineer, environmentalist, amateur astronomer and enthusiastic translator of William Blake – has her suspicions. She has been watching the animals with whom the community shares their isolated, rural home, and she believes they are acting strangely… Janina is engaged in fierce resistance against the injustices around her, and refuses to be a prisoner of society and gender. Her actions ask questions both of the male world which surrounds her and of our deeper human intentions. What does it mean to be human and what does it mean to be animal, and can we separate the two? Why is the killing of animals sport and that of humans murder?

Collaborating with McBurney on the project are set and costume designer Rae Smith, lighting designer Paule Constable, sound designer Christopher Shutt, video designer Dick Straker and dramaturgs Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre and Laurence Cook, together with Complicité’s Senior Producer Tim Bell and Executive Director Amber Massie-Blomfield.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a Complicité co-production with  Barbican London, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Bristol Old Vic, Holland Festival, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, L’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, The Lowry, The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

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