Dead Letter Perfect announce the world première of Olivia Olsen's STRAY DOGS at Park Theatre
Dead Letter Perfect today announces the world première of Stray Dogs. Robin Herford directs Olivia Olsen (Anna Akhmatova), Ben Porter (Isaiah Berlin) and Ian Redford (Joseph Stalin). The production opens at Park Theatre on Friday 15 November, with previews from 13 November, and runs until 7 December.
Anna Akhmatova, the most celebrated poet of her generation, has lost her first husband to the purges and her son to state prison, where he awaits execution. Now, Stalin, the tyrant responsible for the murder of everyone close to her, wants a favour…
Plunged so far into obscurity she is believed to be dead, Anna is offered a renewal of life when the Russian/British philosopher Isaiah Berlin risks the hazards behind the iron curtain to find her. But in a world where poetry is a force that can control and move masses for good or ill, which side of the curtain will her loyalty lead her? How far will she go to save a life? How far will she go to save herself?
Based on true events, Stray Dogs depicts the story of one of the most extraordinary women of the 20th century, as she must choose between her duty to her son, her country, her art and herself. This urgent and relevant play explores the nature of tyranny and how it affects both the political landscape of the past and the present.
Olivia Olsen said today, ‘Stray Dogs is a homage to Anna Akhmatova, a poet laureate living during Stalin’s great purges, an homage to all voices that have been and are gagged. Poetry is beyond politics, beyond advertising, entertainment and beyond information, necessary and dangerous.
Stalin knew this. He knew literature was a weapon and needed Akhmatova’s fame and genius to ﬁll a void... I wrote the play to ﬁnd out how Akhmatova, whose poetry was born in the Stray Dog Cabaret in St. Petersburg, answered.’
Olivia Olsen is the writer and plays Anna Akhmatova. Her writing credits include: Penelope the Odyssey Through Her Eyes, Parizal and Dear Elephant. As an actress, her credits include Night Breath (Donmar Warehouse), The Syringa Tree (UK tour), Agamemnon (Dorothy Somerset Theatre), Nijinsky, Strings on a Rose (York Theatre Royal) and Lettice and Lovage (UK tour).
Ben Porter plays Isaiah Berlin. His previous theatre credits include: 1984 (Playhouse Theatre), Becket (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Visitors (Oldham Coliseum), Time of My Life, Absurd Person Singular (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough), Orwell (Trafalgar Studios), The Woman in Black (Fortune Theatre), Restoration (Salisbury Playhouse), Bedroom Farce (UK tour), The Tempest (Liverpool Playhouse), Silence (Arcola Theatre), The Invention of Love, The Heiress, An Enemy of the People (National Theatre), The Fall Guy (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Edward II (Shefﬁeld Crucible), Disposing of the Body, What the Butler Saw (Hampstead Theatre), Pocket Dream (York Theatre Royal), Hamlet, Cyrano de Bergerac (Greenwich Theatre), Noises Off (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), School for Wives, Macbeth (English Touring Theatre), Doctor Faustus, Frankenstein (Nufﬁeld Southampton Theatres), The Atheist (Theatre503), Hangover Square, In Pursuit of the English (Lyric Hammersmith), and Bodies (Live Theatre, Newcastle). For television his credits include: Survival of the Fittest, Manchild, Westbeach, Covington Cross and Crossroads. For film his credits include: Rupert, Rupert & Rupert, School for Seduction and Young Blades.
Ian Redford plays Joseph Stalin. His previous theatre credits include: Breaking The Code (Salisbury Playhouse), Love And Information (Shefﬁeld Crucible), Loot (Park Theatre), Travels with My Aunt (Citizens Theatre), The Alchemist, Mad World My Master, Candide, The Roaring Girl, The Witch of Edmonton, Arden of Faversham (RSC), The Seagull (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Robin Hood (Cambridge Arts Theatre), Brimstone And Treacle (Arcola Theatre), The Gatekeeper, Dr Faustus (Royal Exchange, Manchester), Love the Sinner, Mother Clap’s Molly House (National Theatre), Six Degrees of Separation (The Old Vic), All My Sons (Leicester Curve), Helen, Romeo and Juliet, The Secret Theatre (Shakespeare’s Globe), She Stoops To Conquer, Free (National Theatre), Rita Sue and Bob Too, A State Affair, Some Explicit Polaroid, Our Country's Good (Out of Joint), Bruises and Built on Sand (Royal Court Theatre). For television his credits include: series regular Keith Appleyard in Coronation Street, Strike, King Charles III, New Tricks, Derailed, House of Elliot, Bergerac, One Foot in the Grave, Moon and Son, The Men’s Room, The Devil’s Whore, Heartbeat and Foyle’s War. For film, his credits include: The Man with the Iron Heart, Mary and Martha, The Trial of the King Killers, She Stoops to Conquer, Trial by Fire, I.D., Remains of the Day, Just Like A Woman, Three Men and a Little Lady and The Great Escape.
Robin Herford directs. Directing credits include: The Woman in Black (Fortune Theatre), Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, All My Sons, Twelfth Night, Old Times, Clouds, Butley, She Stoops to Conquer, The Beaux Stratagem, Touch Wood and Whistle, Calling, Spokesong, Getting on, Tapster, Just Between Ourselves, Forty Years On, A Going Concern, What Every Woman Knows (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough), Last of The Red Hot Lovers (Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere), Ten Times Table, Sisterly Feelings, Woman In Mind, The Constant Wife (Theatre Royal, Windsor), Man of the Moment (Chester Gateway Theatre), Absent Friends, Same Time Next Year (world tours), Bedroom Farce (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), A Going Concern (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton), Time of my Life, Taking Steps, Perfect Days (Derby Theatre), Talking Heads, April In Paris (Exeter Northcott Theatre), Hay Fever (Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke), The Price (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme), and Boeing Boeing, Bedroom Farce, Sugar Daddies, Taking Steps, Private Lives, Blithe Spirit, An Inspector Calls, The Mortal Ash, Proof, The Turn of The Screw, Driving Miss Daisy (Oldham Coliseum).