A unique European-Iraqi collaboration opens this week at Waterloo's Old Vic theatre with a cast led by Julian Glover.
Announcing the collaboration last September, Old Vic producer David Liddiment described the the production as "an opportunity ... to re-conceive [the work] in the light of the current conflict".
Stravinsky composed L'Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale) in 1918 in the midst of war torn Europe. Working with writer Ramuz, Stravinsky wove his musical composition with the Faustian story of a soldier who sells his soul to the devil in return for infinite wealth. This new narrative will honour the original, but through conversations with the artists, friends and colleagues in Iraq it will uncover new stories celebrating the common and uncommon stories of those involved.
A one-off performance at The Old Vic last year of Jeremy Sams' translation of The Soldier's Tale with Jeremy Irons, Hugh Dancy and Nicholas Le Prevost laid the foundations for this original theatre project.
Producers hope that The Soldier's Tale will demonstrate solidarity with artists in Iraq and encourage mutuality and collaboration between theatre and music practitioners in both countries, and help develop the post-war cultural life in Iraq through shared skills and experiences.
Director Andrew Steggall has made several trips to Iraq to carry out castings in Baghdad and workshops with the actors in Kurdistan. With the assistance of Hayder Daffer, a young Iraqi film director, Steggall has secured three Iraqi actors – Ala'a Rasheed, Falah al Flayeh and Deaa al Deen.
John Stravinsky has given his permission to integrate new music into his grandfather's masterpiece. Ahmed Mukhtar, the oud player and composer, will create additional Iraqi and Arabic music to contribute the necessary musical element of the dialogue.
Following its limited run at The Old Vic (26 January-4 February), the company is negotiating tours to Paris, Berlin, New York and Baghdad.