The world-renowned international touring company Complicité presents a new work for the theatre, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, directed by Simon McBurney.
Based on Nobel Prize winning author Olga Tokarczuk’s novel of the same name, the darkly comic, anarchic noir caused a seismic reaction in Tokarczuk’s native Poland due to its defiant attack on authoritarian structures, with right-wing press branding the writer an ‘eco-terrorist’ and national traitor.
The story begins in the depths of winter in a small community on a remote Polish mountainside. Men from the local hunting club are dying in mysterious circumstances and Janina Duszejko – an eccentric older local woman, environmentalist, devoted astrologer and enthusiastic translator of William Blake – has her suspicions. She has been watching the animals with whom the community shares their isolated, rural home, and she believes they are acting strangely… Engaged in fierce resistance against the injustices around her, Janina refuses to be a prisoner of society and gender. Her actions ask questions both of the male world which surrounds her and of our deeper human intentions: what does it mean to be human and what does it mean to be animal, and can we separate the two? Why is the killing of animals sport and that of humans murder?
A thought-provoking, wry and otherworldly murder mystery, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a tale about the cosmos, poetry, and the limitations and possibilities of activism.
Actor, writer and director Simon McBurney is one of the most innovative, mercurial and influential theatre-makers working today.
In 1983 he co-founded the company Complicité, since when all his work has been made through a deeply researched and highly collaborative process which fuses a profound belief that all aspects of the theatre should challenge the limits of theatrical form. As well as writing and creating original works, Simon has brought great plays to the stage – Beckett, Brecht, Bulgakov, Durrenmatt, Ionesco, Daniil Kharms, Arthur Miller, Bruno Schulz, Shakespeare and Ruzzante – and adapted numerous works of literature. He adapted and directed The Master and Margarita (2012) for the 2012 Avignon Festival, and Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity (2015) for the Schaubühne Theatre, Berlin. Simon’s opera work includes directing A Dog’s Heart (2010) a new opera by Sasha Raskatov from the novella by Mikhail Bulgakov, The Magic Flute (2012) and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (2017). In 2020 he directed Alban Berg’s Wozzeck with Sir Simon Rattle conducting.
Simon’s work continually returns to political, social and philosophical questions of the way we live, think and act as a society. He is unafraid of melding the most ancient of theatrical forms with the most recent aspects of modern technology. These aspects of Simon’s work are all present in the award-winning The Encounter (2015). Described as ‘one of the most fully-immersive theatre pieces ever created’ by The New York Times, the show played sold-out runs at London’s Barbican theatre in 2016 and 2017, and on Broadway.
His numerous awards include the Berlin Konrad Woolf Prize for Europe’s Outstanding Multi-Disciplinary Artists (2008) and the prestigious Yomiuri Prize in Japan (2009), which he was the first foreigner to win. He was Artiste Associé at the 2012 Avignon Festival and has honorary doctorates at several universities including Lund in Sweden, London Metropolitan University and Cambridge University.
A Complicité co-production with Barbican London, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Bristol Old Vic, Comédie de Genève, Holland Festival, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, L'Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, The Lowry, The National Theatre of Iceland, Oxford Playhouse, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Theatre Royal Plymouth.