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Leopoldstadt (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Poster for Leopoldstadt by Tom Stoppard.png
Written byTom Stoppard
Date premiered25 January 2020
Place premieredWyndham's Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SubjectHistory, Jewish life, The Holocaust, antisemitism
SettingVienna during first half of the 20th century from 1899 to 1955

Leopoldstadt is a play by Sir Tom Stoppard, directed by Patrick Marber, which premiered on 25 January 2020 at Wyndham's Theatre in London. The play is set among the Jewish community of Vienna in the first half of the 20th century and follows the lives of "a prosperous Jewish family who had fled the pogroms in the East".[1] According to Stoppard the play "took a year to write, but the gestation was much longer. Quite a lot of it is personal to me, but I made it about a Viennese family so that it wouldn’t seem to be about me." (Stoppard's four Jewish grandparents died in Nazi concentration camps.)[2]

An NTLive recording will be screened in cinemas from 27 January 2022 (Holocaust Memorial Day). The play's second preview performance was also on Holocaust Memorial Day (in 2020) and the audience were each given a memorial candle as they left the theatre.[3]


Patrick Marber, who worked with Stoppard on the revival of Travesties in London and New York, commented that "It’s a big company play which as a director is incredibly exciting to do. It’s got the lot."[4] During rehearsals he "instituted a fabulous regime of lectures" given by cast members, allotting each a subject relevant to the play's themes to investigate.[5]

Leopoldstadt's original run at Wyndham's — which had no seat unsold at any performance — was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the production being temporarily shut down on 16 March 2020. On 25 October 2020 Leopoldstadt won the Olivier Award for American Airlines' Best New Play,[6] Adrian Scarborough won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role.[7] After Covid restrictions were lifted in England the play re-opened, running from 7 August to 30 October 2021.[8]

Stoppard told BBC Radio 4 that Leopoldstadt may be his last play[9] though in October 2021 he acknowledged, in a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, that he was reconsidering this - “I'm a playwright, by more than, as it were, labeling. I feel like somebody who writes plays while they're still alive.”.[10]

The Wyndham's production's set design was by Richard Hudson, costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, lighting by Neil Austin, sound, original music by Adam Cork and movement by EJ Boyle. The 41 actors performing in the 2020 production were cast by Amy Ball (adults) and Verity Naughton (children); Leopoldstadt is also the sixth collaboration between Sonia Friedman Productions and Tom Stoppard.[11] The initial cast list (of over 40 players[12]) was announced on 25 October 2019[13] and included Adrian Scarborough, Alexis Zegerman, Luke Thallon and Stoppard's son, Ed.[5]

The play was to have had its North American premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, on 22 January 2022,[14] for a seven week engagement with the London cast, however it was announced that the run would no longer go ahead because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theatre's owner, David Mirvish said "... I’m not giving up on Leopoldstadt. I’m determined to present this magnificent play in Toronto sometime in the future when it is safe to do so."[15]

NT Live screenings

A performance of the play, recorded towards the end of the second run, will be screened in UK cinemas (and some international locations) on 27 January 2022 Holocaust Memorial Day through NTLive.[16]

Critical reception

The play has been received in a positive tone, probably, due to the feeling that this was going to be his last play. Here are some examples:

"So here it is. Tom Stoppard’s last play. Very possibly. Britain’s greatest living dramatist has said that Leopoldstadt is likely to be the end of the road – given his age (82) and how long it takes him to write. Almost every major work he has produced since he burst onto the scene with his Hamlet spin-off Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in 1966 has been met with high anticipation."[17] "History will record Leopoldstadt as Tom Stoppard’s Schindler’s List. His brilliant tragic-comic play opens in the Jewish quarter of Vienna in 1899. We meet a family of intellectuals and businessmen who are celebrating their very first Christmas. (...) At press night, the critics were busy scribbling one-liners which are destined to reach the dictionary of quotations. ‘Why do Jews have to choose between pushy and humble?’ ‘Today’s modern is tomorrow’s nostalgia: we missed Mahler when we heard Schoenberg.’"[18]

Awards and nominations

Original West End production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2020 Laurence Olivier Award[19] Best New Play Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Adrian Scarborough Won


  1. ^ Maxwell, Dominic (29 June 2019). "Leopoldstadt, Tom Stoppard's new play". The Times. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  2. ^ Brown, Mark (26 June 2019). "Jewish district inspires Tom Stoppard in 'personal' new play". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  3. ^ "We were given these memorial candles as we left the performance of Tom Stoppard's #Leopoldstadt. A particularly poignant date to see this powerful and personal play". Twitter. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  4. ^ Nathan, John (26 June 2019). "Tom Stoppard's first Jewish play announced". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b Jays, David (28 January 2020). "'My surname was an albatross': Ed Stoppard on starring in his dad's new play". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  6. ^ Olivier Awards (25 October 2020). "Tweet from Olivier Awards announcing the winner of Best New Play". Twitter. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  7. ^ Olivier Awards (25 October 2020). "Tweet from Olivier Awards announcing the winner of Best Actor in a Supporting Role". Twitter. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Leopoldstadt – 2021 West End Dates". Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  9. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (8 February 2020). "Tom Stoppard reveals that Leopoldstadt may be his last play". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  10. ^ "'Shakespeare in Love' screenplay writer Tom Stoppard said 'Leopoldstadt' would be his last play -- now he's not so sure". CNN Style. 27 October 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Leopoldstadt in the West End: first look at Tom Stoppard's new play in rehearsals". WhatsOnStage. 14 January 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  12. ^ Brantley, Ben (12 February 2020). "Review: In 'Leopoldstadt,' Tom Stoppard Reckons With His Jewish Roots". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Leopoldstadt initial cast to include Adrian Scarborough and Luke Thallon". WhatsOnStage. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  14. ^ "News: Last chance to see Leopoldstadt in the West End". The Theatre Cafe. 4 October 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  15. ^ "Press Release: Tom Stoppard's Leopoldstadt Will No Longer Play Toronto in 2022". Mirvish Theatres. 10 December 2021. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  16. ^ "National Theatre Live to broadcast Kit Harington's Henry V, Hex, Leopoldstadt and The Book of Dust". What's On Stage. 28 October 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  17. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (12 February 2020). "Leopoldstadt review, Wyndham's Theatre: Tom Stoppard delivers an unforgettable (perhaps final) play from the heart". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  18. ^ "A brilliant Unrevivable Undertaling: Tom Stoppard's Leopoldstadr Reviewed". Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Olivier Awards 2020 with Mastercard - Theatre's Biggest Night". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 26 October 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 January 2022, at 01:41
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