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Presented by the Auckland Theatre Company at the
Maidment Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand, August 2002
written by Tom Stoppard; directed by Raymond Hawthorne


Ross Girven as Tristan Tzara,

Paul Gittins as Lenin,

and Michael Hurst as James Joyce

Program Notes

From the producer: Travesties premiered in 1974, seven years after Stoppard's glittering debut with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead [voted by you Best Production of our 2001 play with fire season]. As in the earlier work, major events pass through a minor filter to hilarious effect. Human history is exposed as a travesty: not some grandly heroic march of order, reason and righteousness, but rather a series of random acts, more-often-than-not the unintended consequence of love-inspired pettiness or passion. Here, the witless witness is Henry Carr, a nondescript British consul, wiling away World War One in neutral Switzerland. In Stoppard's revisionist take, it is around Carr that the twentieth century explodes into life. Like tectonic plates, Art and Politics collide at the unlikely time-space intersection of Zurich, 1917 and the rest, as they say, is history. But just as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern remained oblivious to William Shakespeare, so too do James Joyce, Tristan Tzara and Lenin miss any allusion to Oscar Wilde. The joke is unwittingly on them, and so wittily on us. That's the Importance of Being Stoppard!

-Simon Prast

Henry Carr
Tristan Tzara
James Joyce


Michael Edward
Ross Girven
Paul Gittins
Michael Hurst
Ross Duncan
Sophia Hawthorne
Anna Meech
Nancy Schroeder

Lighting Designer
  Raymond Hawthorne
Tracy Grant
Vera Thomas
Elizabeth Whiting

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Reviews and Articles on Travesties

Sunday Star Times:  "As Joyce, Michael Hurst is wry and comic . . . "

National Business Review :  "Paul Gittens (Lenin), Michael Hurst (James Joyce) and Ross Girven (Tristan Tzara) are all convincing as they trail about the stage awash with manuscripts and letters, dropping, losing and swapping their paper-borne ideas."

New Zealand Listener:  "Michael Hurst as Joyce and Ross Girven as Tzara have some lovely moments."

New Zealand Herald :  "As fresh in this Auckland Theatre Company production as if it were brand new, the stylish, inspired direction of Raymond Hawthorne gives the work a polished, almost delirious pace and tone certain to please even the most demanding of Stoppard devotees, while providing a rare treat for everyone else."

New Zealand Herald (preview):  "The anarchistic quality of Stoppard's writing . . . emerges in the way Travesties mixes these historic elements with fantastic ones, while also employing plot devices from The Importance of Being Earnest".