The UK premiere of NORDOST tours to Bath’s egg theatre on Tuesday 7th May and Wednesday 8th May as one of just three UK venues. This new English language translation of an award-winning German play tells the moving story of the 2002 Moscow hostage crisis, when Chechen militants staged a terrorist attack in a theatre sending shockwaves around the world. Nordost merges the experiences of three women directly affected by the siege, played by actresses Emily Bowker, Nia Davies and Ellie Turner accompanied by a local silent youth chorus. Presented by Company of Angels, the production opened in Salisbury ahead of performances in Bath and Oxford.
Representing the young people caught up in the 2002 tragedy, the unspoken heart of the siege, a different group of students will perform in Nordost at each of the UK touring venues. In Bath, Year 9 students from Norton Hill School in Midsomer Norton – an associate school of the egg – will join the professional company on stage as the ‘Silent Chorus’.
Set on October 23, 2002, Nordost tells the story of three women willing to sacrifice their lives for the people they love. The first of the women, Olga (Nia Davies) and her daughter are settling into their seats at the Dubrovka Theatre where they are about to watch a song-and-dance spectacular about the glories of Russian soldiers called Nordost. Across town, Zura (Ellie Turner), a young Chechen widow, sits in a van. Around her are other young ‘black widows’, who have loved and lost before their 20th birthday. Outside a hospital, Tamara (Emily Bowker), a doctor, is taking a break from ambulance duty when a call comes over the radio: Chechen militants have laid siege to the Dubrovka Theatre.
Written by Torsten Buchsteiner, Nordost has won European theatre awards including 2005’s Else-Lasker-Schüler Play Award and St Galler Playwright competition. This German-written, Russian-focused play about love, loss and sacrifice has been performed in 14 languages and in 16 European countries. This production, the first English language staging of Nordost, is translated by David Tushingham and recommended for adults and young people aged 14 years and over.
The Moscow theatre hostage crisis, also known as the Nordost siege, took place from 23 – 26 October 2002 with 850 people including many children held by 42 Chechen militants who stormed the theatre during Act II of Nordost. The militants demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and an end to the Second Chechen War. After a 57-hour standoff with images beamed around the world, Russian special forces intervened by releasing a chemical gas into the theatre’s ventilation system which led to 170 deaths, including those of 130 hostages.
Director Adam Barnard said: “The siege was gut-wrenching and heartbreaking at every level: its causes, how it unfolded, how it ended and its lasting impact. Torsten’s text is highly researched and adheres closely to what happens, but its deftness is to filter events through the eyes of three (fictitious) women – two mothers and one young militant. In doing so it becomes a study of love as well as hatred.”
“There are two dynamics in this story: one concerns each individual life; the other, the behaviour of groups. When reading the play I always imagined more people on stage. The idea of a young chorus grew from there – I felt that young people were the unspoken heart of the siege. Nordost was a family musical; a lot of children were in that audience. And many of the ‘Black Widows’ were teenagers who had already endured unimaginable suffering.”
Company of Angels is at the forefront of new and experimental theatre for young audiences. The company has been touring nationally and internationally for the last ten years. For the last three years Company of Angels has also been a regular presence at the Latitude Festival.
NORDOST appears at the egg theatre on Tuesday 7th May and Wednesday 8th May.
Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844, the egg reception on 01225 823 409 or online via www.theatreroyalorg.uk