Your opinions are your symptoms. Your disease is dissent. Your kind of schizophrenia does not presuppose changes of personality noticeable to others. -- Doctor
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour was first performed at the Festival Hall in July 1977, with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andre' Previn, from his score. The production was directed by Trevor Nunn and designed by Ralph Koltai.
THE CASTALEXANDER -- Ian McKellen
IVANOV -- John Wood
SACHA -- Andrew Shelton
DOCTOR -- Patrick Stewart
COLONEL -- Philip Locke
SYNOPSISVirtually assaulting the audience with a cascade of words and a conspicuous display of intellect, Stoppard, in Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, contrasts the circumstances of a political prisoner and a mental patient in a Soviet insane asylum, to question the difference, if any, between free will and the freedom to conform. The situation, in which the mental patient "hears" an orchestra, is both chilling and funny as we are introduced to two men who happen to share the same name, are incarcerated in the same cell, and are attended by the same doctor. -- from the 1978 Grove Press edition.
According to Stoppard's preface in the Grove edition, the author was invited in 1974 by Andre' Previn to write something which had the need for a live symphony orchestra on stage. Although given carte blanche, Stoppard could not immediately find a suitable subject for the exercise.
In 1976, Stoppard met Soviet dissident Victor Fainberg, one of a group of people arrested during a peaceful protest of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. Pronounced insane, Fainberg spent five years in the Russian prison-hospital system and later wrote about his experiences in the magazine "Index on Censorship." Now in exile, he was working to secure the release of Vladimir Bukovsky, another dissident imprisoned for exposing the abuses of psychiatry in the USSR. Stoppard writes of Bukovsky: "He was not a man to be broken or silenced; an insistent, discordant note, one might say, in an orchestrated society." Stoppard had found the topic for his collaboration with Previn.
Thanks to an international campaign, Bukovsky was released and sent to the West in 1976. He attended a rehearsal of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour in June of the next year. The play is dedicated to him and to Victor Fainberg.
FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION
ONLINEAndre' Previn -- Biography of the composer, on the occasion of the world premiere of his A Streetcar Named Desire at the San Francisco Opera.
Index on Censorship -- The bi-monthly magazine for free speech.
London Symphony Orchestra -- Book tickets on-line.
OFFLINEThe Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
To Choose Freedom by Vladimir Bukovsky
Judgement Day: A Nuremberg Trial for Soviet Agents and Western Fellow Travelers by Vladimir Bukovsky
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