Chancellor Rieger is leaving office. But does leaving office necessarily mean that he, his mistress and his extended family have to leave the state villa, which has been their home for years? While his former secretary, and the former secretary to his former secretary, grapple with the mechanics of change and his family prepare to vace an uncertain future, the chancellor himself considers his legacy amid visits from journalists, an infatuated student and his arch-rival and possible successor, Patrick Klein. With echoes of both King Lear and The Cherry Orchard, Vaclav Havel's "Leaving" addresses the themes of change, dispossession and the transfer of power from one generation to the next. The play received its English-language world premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in September 2008. "Leaving" is Vaclav Havel's first play since he was propelled to political office in 1989.
Vaclav Havel was born in Czechoslovakia in 1936. Among his plays, those best known in the West areThe Garden Party, The Memorandum, Largo Desolato, Temptation, and three one-act plays, Audience,Private View and Protest. He is a founding spokesman of Charter 77 and the author of many influential essays on the nature of totalitarianism and dissent. In 1979 he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for his involvement in the human rights movement. Out of this imprisonment came his book of letters to his wife, Letters to Olga (1981). In November 1989 he helped to found the Civic Forum, the first legal opposition movement in Czechoslovakia in forty years; in December 1989 he was elected President of Czechoslovakia; and in 1994 became the first President of the independent Czech Republic. His memoir, To the Castle and Back, was published in 2007.
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