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mary stuart

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duration 2:45, incl. 1 pauze
premiere 03 Dec 2014


Mary Stuart is a majestic drama which revolves around two legendary figures of European history, Elizabeth I of England and her Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots.


Friedrich Schiller writes a blood-chilling reconstruction of Mary’s final days as she awaits execution for plotting to murder Elizabeth. Her imprisonment is the culmination of a long rivalry between the two women, in which Mary’s claim to the throne has created a climate of suspicion and deceit. Schiller subtly reveals Elizabeth’s reticence; she has her arch-rival in her power at last, but is unwilling to take responsibility for her death. It would appear that Mary is less afraid to die than Elizabeth is to kill her.

Behind the masks of political power, Schiller’s characters are women of flesh and blood. They are fascinated by each other but are caught in a tangled web of rivalry and jealousy. The puritanical, pragmatic Elizabeth sees how the refined and flamboyant Mary manipulates the men in her life and yet suffers from the same sense of isolation. The piece is not only a finely crafted historical drama about power, ambition and responsibility, but an intimate portrait of two women trapped by their political roles. With its beautiful verse and refined psychological characterizations, Mary Stuart (Maria Stuart) is acknowledged as a masterpiece in the oeuvre of Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) and of the German classical period.


Ivo van Hove about Mary Stuart

'The play is about two women in power. Elizabeth and Mary face the most extreme consequences of that power: a life or death decision in the interests of the state. Elizabeth must put aside her personal feelings and live up to the expectations that others have of her as a world leader. She faces the ultimate test of political responsibility. The piece reveals that it is indeed ‘lonely at the top’. Its central characters are aware that they are writing history. For me, that is its essence: the characters must review their lives and their position at a turning point in history. Mary contemplates her impending death in an almost operatic staging of her final hours. Elizabeth is in denial. She feels isolated and is fully aware that history will condemn her too. Twenty-five years ago, I produced Schiller’s Don Carlos in Antwerp. That is another play in which public and private interests conflict. I thought this an appropriate moment to revisit Schiller as the first co-production with Het Toneelhuis. The piece remains highly relevant today, dealing with powerful women who must contend with their own emotions and their place in history. I am looking forward to working alongside Het Toneelhuis and FC Bergman. We have a unique combination of experienced actors and new talent, with a full cast to fill even the smallest roles to perfection.'

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