Sommer 14 – A Dance of Death

by Rolf Hochhuth

Finborough Theatre
Tuesday, 5 August – Saturday, 30 August 2014
The UK premiere and the World Premiere in English
Book Tickets
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“Wars do not break out, they are not brokered or declared as is always written. They are brought about by those who desire them.”

Commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War…

Commissioned by the Finborough Theatre from Cerberus Theatre, the UK premiere and the English world premiere of controversial German playwright Rolf Hochhuth’s Sommer 14 – A Dance of Death in a brand new translation.

In June 1914, Europe was enjoying unprecedented peace and prosperity.

Little over a month later, the world was at war – and only a handful of people knew it was happening.

Inspired by the medieval mystery plays Sommer 14 – A Dance of Death is an epic telling from a German and European perspective of the world’s descent into war. Employing the character of Death as a guide, the play uses the classic Danse Macabre structure of a series of searing vignettes to illuminate the people and the events that led up to the outbreak of the First World War.

“The dead are amongst us, they are inside us. They demand of us that we answer for our crimes.”

At the turn of the twentieth century, Germany was the cultural and economic envy of the continent – until Kaiser Wilhelm II and Admiral Tirpitz massively expand the German Navy and spark an arms race with Great Britain.

At the same time, leaders in Vienna and Berlin are convinced that a quick pre-emptive war is the safest way to deal with the military might of Russia and France.

Whilst King Edward VII repeatedly warns Austria’s aged emperor of Germany’s dangerous predilection for playing soldiers, British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill invokes a plan to not-so-secretly arm the ocean liner Lusitania, so that it and its many American passengers are a target for German submarines.

In Paris in March 1914, the war-hungry Editor of French newspaper Le Figaro is murdered by the wife of the pacifist Minister of Finance. In Berlin in May 1914, German Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg plants information in the press that Great Britain plans to attack Germany as soon as it can decide a date.

Even scientific reason is distorted by the fog of war as the German Jew Fritz Haber – torn between duty to his country and the pleas of his wife – becomes the father of chemical warfare.

But, ultimately, it is a twenty year old student, Gavrilo Princip, who provides the spark that changes the world forever…

This latest work from Rolf Hochhuth (following the Finborough Theatre’s acclaimed productions of two previous works by Rolf Hochhuth – Soldiers and The Representative )Sommer 14 – A Dance with Death is a hugely ambitious epic vision of the Great War from one of Europe’s most acclaimed – and most controversial – dramatists.

in a free adaptation by Gwynne Edwards
with additional scenes and dialogue by Mhairi Grealis

Director – Christopher Loscher
Designer – Mike Lees


For further information and to book tickets please follow this link to the Finborough Theatre website.