Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia

Portrait of Alexander Herzen (1867)

Portrait of Alexander Herzen (1867), Painted by Nikolai Gay [source]

Ooh! Ooh! I want to see this!

Lincoln Center Theater has set dates for its production of Tom Stoppard's award-winning trilogy of plays, The Coast of Utopia, to take place at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The first part of the trilogy, entilted Voyage, will start performances on October 17, and the last part of the trilogy, Salvage, will conclude on March 11.

During the final three and one-half weeks of the production's run, audiences will have the opportunity to see all three parts of the trilogy in successive performances. In addition, on three Saturdays -- February 24, March 3 and March 10 -- theatergoers will be able to see all three parts in one-day marathons beginning at 11am.


Beginning in mid-19th century Russia during the repressive reign of Tsar Nicholas I, the play spans a period of 30 years. It tells the panoramic story of a group of Russian intellectuals, headed by the radical theorist and editor Alexander Herzen, the novelist Ivan Turgenev, the literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, and the aristocrat-turned-anarchist Michael Bakunin, who lead a band of like-minded countrymen in a revolutionary movement in which they strive to change and fix a political system by using their minds as their only weapon.

Voyage, which is set in the Russian countryside as well as in Moscow and St. Petersburg, will open officially on November 5. Part two, entilted Shipwreck, begins 13 years later outside Moscow and follows the characters' exile to Paris, Dresden, and Nice. It begins previews on December 5 and opens officially on December 21. Salvage, which takes place over a period of 12 years in London and Geneva, begins previews on January 30 and opens officially on February 15.

I've been wanting to see this since I first read about it four years ago on The Observer's web site. My favorite paragraph of the article:

Marx distrusted Herzen, and was despised by him in return. Herzen had no time for the kind of mono-theory that bound history, progress and individual autonomy to some overarching abstraction like Marx's material dialecticism. What he did have time for - and what bound Isaiah Berlin to him - was the individual over the collective, the actual over the theoretical. What he detested above all was the conceit that future bliss justified present sacrifice and bloodshed. The future, said Herzen, was the offspring of accident and wilfulness. There was no libretto or destination, and there was always as much in front as behind.

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