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Collaboration and Taking Sides are companion pieces by Ronald Harwood. Taking Sides premiered at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in 1995; Collaboration premiered at the same theatre in July 2008, when the two plays were staged in repertory.
In 1931, composer Richard Strauss and writer Stephan Zweig embark on an invigorating artistic partnership. But Zweig is a Jew and the Nazis are on the march. Is it possible to keep artistic aspiration and political action separate? How fine is the line between collaboration and betrayal?
Prized by Hitler as the cultural jewel in the crown of the Third Reich, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler became the perfect post-war target for interrogation as a Nazi sympathiser. Major Steve Arnold, who has witnessed the horrors of Belsen, is about to cross-examine him.
‘What does the artist do in a brutal, totalitarian society? Can art ever claim to be above politics? Harwood’s fierce moral debate is set in the American zone of occupied Berlin in 1946. The play acts as a powerful metaphor for the present and all those post-authoritarian societies busy ransacking their pasts.’ Guardian
‘A brave, wise and deeply moving play about the fatal confrontation between culture and power, between art and politics, between irresponsible freedom and responsible compromise. A gripping moral challenge in a cocksure and self-seeking age.’ Sunday Times
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