The Last Days of Mankind Featuring The Tiger Lillies
One of the most important and significant plays of our time reopens Leith Theatre. Leith Theatre is proud to present The Last Days of Mankind, the epic anti-war satire by Viennese writer Karl Kraus, as its first full scale major production in over 20 years. The play will preview on Saturday 10 November, followed by the World Premiere opening on Sunday 11 November and run until Friday 16 November. The Last Days of Mankind will be co-directed by Scottish director John Paul McGroarty and Yuri Birte Anderson from Theaterlabor Germany and performed by a European cast featuring actors from Scotland, Germany, Poland, Serbia, France, Ukraine, Poland, Ireland and England,
In addition, the Olivier award winning cabaret artists The Tiger Lillies have written ten new songs for the production and will perform alongside the European actors in the magnificent Leith Theatre. Martyn Jacques’ new songs are inspired by the work of Kraus and will be performed by The Tiger Lillies appearing on stage alongside the actors. The auditorium will be transformed into a Viennese cafe with cabaret style seating evoking the atmosphere of fin de siècle Vienna. Martyn Jacques said he was finding plenty of inspiration in The Last Days of Mankind.
“I have already done an album about the war poets – but this is very different. They were heartbroken young men waiting to die. This one is very much more sarcastic. It is humour but very black humour and of the kind I love. It is really perfect for The Tiger Lillies.”
Director John Paul McGroarty said:
“Kraus was one of the few artists who kept working through the war, he was writing away, taking in newspaper clippings, writing about things as they happened. He made a docudrama 100 years before anyone had a thought of a docudrama.”
Co-director Yuri Birte Anderson added: “Theaterlabor came here first in 2015. Leith Theatre’s main auditorium wasn’t open and we did workshops in Leith Dockers Club. Kraus was a Viennese satirist, very controversial and he recorded everything he heard and turned it into a mega docudrama. Kraus perfectly manages to capture the war discourse of his time - the feverish war craze that seems over the top to us nowadays, but it was real. This will be truly European Theatre." There was no full English translation of the play available, so this will be the Scottish premiere of a new translation by Patrick Healy, Irish Joycean, poet, philosopher and professor. Patrick Healy said:
“It is an extraordinary honour that they are using my translation. There never was a complete translation and without a translation you can’t get a complete view of what is going on.”
1988 saw the last major theatrical production in Leith Theatre. It is now run by Leith Theatre Trust, and slowly being restored. This year it was used by the Edinburgh International Festival to stage a series of concerts and played host for events by poetry collective Neu! Reekie! and is a base for the hugely popular Hidden Doors festival. Mike Griffiths, the play’s Executive Producer and a director of Leith Theatre Trust said:
“This is a hugely ambitious production but one which seems appropriate to the rebirth of Leith Theatre. The theatre has also been a victim of war, so it seems fitting to present this satire of war and its destruction here in Leith as part of our commemoration of the end of another world war.”
Other artistic companies involved in the project are Teatr A Part (Poland), Plavo Pozoriste (Serbia), Association Arsène (France), Smashing Times (Ireland), Kultura Medialna (Ukraine). In addition to The Last Days of Mankind Leith Theatre will also host Café Europa, a series of performances, talks and demonstrations led by Siegmar Schroeder, Artistic Director of Theaterlabor. Local actors, young people and community groups will be encouraged to take part in the programme which will explore themes of war, conflict, Europe and political engagement. The production has been made possible with support from Creative Europe and Creative Scotland
November 10 - 16, 2018 Leith Theatre Edinburgh United Kingdom
Venue is wheelchair accessible.