About Taking Sides
RONALD HARWOOD’S SEASON OF TWO CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED DRAMAS TRANSFERS TO THE DUCHESS THEATRE
Collaboration and Taking Sides, two critically acclaimed, subtly linked plays written by award winning playwright Ronald Harwood that explore the fine line between collaboration and betrayal during the Second World War will transfer from the Chichester Festival Theatre to the Duchess Theatre on the 20th May.
Taking Sides, first seen in 1995 deals with an investigation into the great conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, who remained conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic during the Third Reich. Furtwängler, played by Michael Pennington, was prized by Hitler and became the cultural jewel in his crown. After the war he became the target for vigorous interrogation by the crude, apparently uncultured Major Steve Arnold, who had witnessed the horrors of Belsen.
Michael Pennington also plays composer Richard Strauss in Harwood’s new play Collaboration. The play opens in 1931 in a spirit of optimism as Strauss and writer Stefan Zweig embark on an invigorating artistic partnership. However, Zweig is a Jew and the Nazis are on the march.
Ronald Harwood said "It is no exaggeration to say that one of the great highlights of my professional life was to learn that Taking Sides and Collaboration were transferring from Chichester to the Duchess Theatre, London. Of all West End playhouses, the Duchess is one of the very few theatres able to hold audience and actors in an intimate embrace. It is, I believe, the ideal home for these plays which deal with the conflict between art and politics and the agonizing personal and moral choices that had to be faced by the protagonists. But those choices have still to be made by us, now, and the question how would we have behaved lies at the heart of both plays".
Michael Pennington’s career has spanned over forty years, during which he has played a wide variety of leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and the English Shakespeare Company, which he co-founded in 1986 and which toured the world three times.
David Horovitch plays both Major Arnold in Taking Sides and Stefan Zweig in Collaboration. His theatre credits include Absurd Person Singular at Theatre Royal Windsor and West End, Tony in Losing Louis at Hampstead Theatre and Burleigh in Mary Stuart at Donmar Warehouse.
The cast includes Isla Blair, Pip Donaghy, Martin Hutson, Melanie Jessop, and Sophie Roberts.
Isla Blair plays Pauline Strauss. Her theatre credits include Mrs Lintott in The History Boys on a National Theatre tour and at the Wyndhams Theatre. Pip Donaghy appeared in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby at Chichester. Martin Hutson’s theatre credits include The Voysey Inheritance and The Mandate at the National Theatre.
Ronald Harwood’s many plays include The Dresser, Taking Sides, Quartet, Mahler’s Conversion, An English Tragedy and Collaboration His films include The Dresser (Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay), Taking Sides (XXIX Flaiano Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay), The Pianist (Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Palme d’Or, 2002 Cannes Film Festival and 2003 BAFTA for Best Film), Being Julia, Oliver Twist, and most recently The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (winner of the 2008 BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay, Academy Award Nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and Humanitas Prize 2008, Writers’ Guild Award for Best Screenplay, Prix Jacques Prevert du Scenario 2008), and Love in the Time of Cholera.In 1999, he was appointed a CBE.
Philip Franks directs. Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, he has previously directed The Cherry Orchard (Festival 08), Twelfth Night (Festival 07) and co-directed The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Festivals 06 and 07, UK tour, West End and Toronto).