June to August 2011 | 15 Premieres 1 Rediscovery

Gitta Sereny's
IN QUEST OF CONSCIENCE

adapted for the stage by
Robert David MacDonald

 
Sundays and Mondays, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 June 2011

The English Premiere

THE FINBOROUGH THEATRE IS NOW FULLY AIR CONDITIONED

A True Story

"Survival, always survival. I had to limit my own actions to what I, in my conscience, could answer for." Franz Stangl

SS-Obersturmführer Franz Stangl was the Superintendent of the Nazi’s T-4 Euthanasia Programme overseeing the extermination of mentally and physically disabled people, and subsequently Commandant of both Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps. Tracked down long after the war by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in Brazil, he was extradited to West Germany and tried for the deaths of approximately 900,000 people. During his imprisonment, he was interviewed by author Gitta Sereny, well known for her studies of Mary Bell and Albert Speer. Based on her subsequent book, In Quest Of Conscience is a startling dramatization of those interviews.

The play explores Stangl the child, the husband, the father and leader, attempting to understand how the young boy who started life wanting to be a fabric weaver in his hometown in Austria became responsible for the most efficient death camp of the Holocaust. In Quest Of Conscience is a devastating journey into the dark heart of evil as the interview process gradually brings Stangl face to face with the consequences of his actions...

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT ROBERT DAVID MACDONALD

Robert David MacDonald (1929–2004) was born in Elgin, Scotland. After originally training as a musician, he worked as a Director, Playwright and Translator. As an Assistant Director, he worked at both the Glyndebourne Opera Festival and for the Royal Opera House. In 1971, he became Co-Artistic Director of the Glasgow Citizens Theatre, where he directed fifty plays and wrote fifteen for the venue before his retirement in 2003. The plays that he wrote for the Glasgow Citz include The De Sade Show (1975), Chinchilla (1977), Summit Conference (1978), also seen in the West End with Glenda Jackson and Gary Oldman, A Waste of Time (1980), Don Juan (1980), Webster (1983), Britannicus (2002) and Cheri (2003). As a translator, MacDonald translated over seventy different plays and opera from over ten different languages including The Threepenny Opera, Tamerlano, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, The Marriage of Figaro, Orpheus and The Human Voice, Conversation at Night, Shadow of Angels, The Balcony, The Government Inspector, Tasso, Faust I and II, Ibsen’s Brand and Hedda Gabler, Lermontov's Maskerade, Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, Molière's School for Wives and Don Juan, Pirandello's Enrico Four, Racine's Phèdre, Schiller's Mary Stuart, The Maid of Orleans and Don Carlos, Chekhov's The Seagull, Verne's Around the World In Eighty Days, Wedekind's Lulu and Goethe’s Clavigo. His adaptation of War and Peace ran for two seasons on Broadway and received an Emmy award when shown on U.S television. The Finborough Theatre has previously presented Robert David MacDonald’s versions of Rolf Hochhuth’s Soldiers (2004) and The Representative (2006)

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR RACHEL HEYBURN

Rachel Heyburn has recently completed a six month residency as Resident Assistant Director at the Finborough Theatre. During her residency, Rachel assisted on The Northerners, Miss Lilly Gets Boned and Dream of the Dog with Janet Suzman (which subsequently transferred to the West End. Other directing includes Going Underground (Theatre 503), Busted! (Arcola Theatre), The Offer and Closing Time (Etcetera Theatre). Assistant Directing includes The Ones That Flutter (Theatre 503), Through The Door (Trafalgar Studios), The Hostage (Southwark Playhouse) and One Night In November (Belgrade Theatre)

ABOUT THE ACTORS

Martin Buchan's extensive theatre includes Juno and the Paycock (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), Borstal Boy (Gaiety Theatre, Dublin), Le Diner De Cons (Manchester Free Theatre Company), The Rehearsal (Library Theatre, Manchester) and Nowhere Close (Liverpool Comedy Festival). Television includes Crimewatch, Dead Clever, Emmerdale, Doctors, Heartbeat and Baker Street Bank Heist. Film includes Einstein, Our Burdens and Sweet Little Chimes.

Siubhan Harrison's theatre includes Marguerite (Theatre Royal Haymarket) and Marianne Dreams (Almeida Theatre). Musical Theatre includes Grease (Piccadilly Theatre), Bad Girls The Musical (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Les Miserables (Windsor Castle). TV includes The Song Of Lunch and Al Murray Show.

Patrick Knowles's theatre include The Northerners (Finborough Theatre), The Grapes of Wrath (Mercury Theatre, Colchester), Gates of Gold (Library Theatre, Manchester) and Paradise Regained (Royal Court Theatre), and extensive TV includes Doctors, New Tricks, Apparitions and Lewis.

Phillipa Peak's extensive theatre includes Mother Courage And Her Children (National Theatre), The Deep Blue Sea (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), Julius Caesar (Young Vic Theatre), The Comedy of Errors (Bristol Old Vic), Talk About The Passion (New End Theatre, Hampstead), Vertigo (Nottingham Playhouse), Romeo and Juliet (Northcott Theatre, Exeter), Danny Bouncing, Can't Pay Won't Pay and Private Lives (Derby Playhouse) and Private Lives (Library Theatre, Manchester) for which she won the Manchester Evening News Best Actress Award. Extensive TV and film includes Heartlands, King Lear, The Bill, My Family, Casualty, Doctors, EastEnders and Emmerdale where she played series regular Effie. 

ABOUT THE LIGHTING DESIGNER DAN CLOAKE

Dan Cloake trained in Lighting Design at Wimbledon School of Art and was the Technical Manager at The Finborough Theatre and The New End Theatre in 2010. His recent Lighting DesignS include; The Goodnight Bird and Love on the Dole (Finborough Theatre), Gloustershire (Arcola Theatre), A Big Day for the Goldbergs (New End Theatre and Radlett Centre), The Brothers Lionheart (George Square, Edinburgh), My Balloon Beats Your Astronaut and Ducks (Tristan Bates Theatre), Dear Mr! (The Space), Sparrow Heights (Greenwich Playhouse) and relighting Unexpected Opera's 'rpheus Down Under (SE Tour) and Merry Opera's Companies production of Troy Boy.

PRESS ON IN QUEST OF CONSCIENCE

"A brilliant and important play which is based on the actual interviews with the death camp commandant Franz Stragl by Gitta Sereny searching desperately to discover how the Holocaust happened, how one worked and lived with it, and how to prevent it occurring again" Blanche Marvin, London Theatreviews

"This enormously important work" Blanche Marvin, London Theatreviews

"In Quest of Conscience is a dramatisation of the interviews that Gita Sereny, author of Mary Bell and Albert Speer, conducted with Stangl while he was in Dusseldorf Prison. ‘I want to know how you see yourself as a human being?’ This dramatic exploration is also about us: how do you rationalise the actions of individuals who are responsible for the deaths of so many?" Pauline Flannery, Extra! Extra!

"Phillipa Peak and Martin Buchan make a compelling pair" Naima Khan, Spoonfed

"Played with canny detail by Peak, she makes the interviewer as much a compelling character as the interviewee" Naima Khan, Spoonfed

"Expertly played by Phillipa Peak" Pauline Flannery, Extra! Extra!

"There is however, an unforgettable performance in this play. In Buchan's hands, Strangl is profoundly challenging to watch, but completely absorbing at the same time. He cries remembering his happy days teaching the zither and we recoil at this pathetic old man. Then, leaving us open-mouthed, he is horribly matter of fact and disturbingly proud of himself for the things he did in Treblinka." Naima Khan, Spoonfed

"Martin Buchan does a powerful job as Stangl, using an almost easy-going matter-of-factness to tell his story, except for when matters stray too near his family, then he almost becomes unhinged." Pauline Flannery, Extra! Extra!

"Convincingly played by Siobhan Harrison" Pauline Flannery, Extra! Extra!

TICKETS AND TIMES

Sundays and Mondays, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 June 2011

Evenings at 7.30pm.

Performance Length: Approximately 1 hour 55 minutes with one interval of fifteen minutes.

Tickets £13, £9 concessions

PLEASE NOTE THAT LATECOMERS CANNOT BE ADMITTED AND TICKETS CANNOT BE EXCHANGED OR REFUNDED.

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Adapted by Robert David MacDonald

Directed by Rachel Heyburn

Designed by Florence McHugh

Lighting by Dan Cloake

Sound by Chris Barlow

Presented by Myriad Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

Image by David Thorp

 

MARTIN BUCHAN

SIUBHAN HARRISON

PATRICK KNOWLES

PHILLIPA PEAK