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Havel’s ‘Leaving’ up for grabs

Former Czech Pres./plawright offers political drama

Three U.S. theater companies are jockeying for the Gotham preem of “Leaving,” a new work by former Czech president/playwright Vaclav Havel, that looks at current political intrigue, both in his homeland and abroad.

Paul Wilson, the ex-president’s longtime translator who just completed the English-language adaptation, predicts the new work will have wide appeal.

“Having translated so much of Havel’s writing, I think that ‘Leaving’ is a work of great maturity and in the right hands, could be his greatest play so far,” Wilson said.

Auds have waited 20 years for a new drama from Havel, who became the first democratically elected Czech president in more than four decades following the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Havel spent five years in jail for his writing and dissident activities during communist rule. His new absurdist play, about a former ruler struggling with his fall from power, will have its world premiere at Prague’s Vinohrady Theater on June 6, said agent Jitka Sloupova.

Although the date of the Gotham preem has not yet been decided, the American theater companies are so eager to open the play they did not even wait for its English translation — one of eight languages it will be adapted into, Sloupova added.

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