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The play, by Tom Stoppard

The play is concerned with the significance of rock and roll in the emergence of the socialist movement in Eastern Bloc Czechoslovakia between the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Taking place in Cambridge, England and in Prague, the play contrasts the attitudes of a young Czech PhD student and rock music fan, who becomes appalled by the repressive regime in his home country, with those of his British Marxist professor, who unrepentantly continues to believe in the Soviet ideal.

The play takes place over several decades from the late 1960s until 1990, ending with a concert given by The Rolling Stones that year in Prague. Recurrent references are made to a glimpse by one of the main characters of the young Syd Barrett performing Golden Hair. Barrett's physical and mental decline also plays a role in the drama (Barrett in fact died during the play's run). The underground Czech group The Plastic People of the Universe are held up by another character as an ideal of resistance to Communism. The poetry of Sappho is another recurrent motif; its pagan sensualism is implicitly compared with the anarchic erotic force of Rock music.

One of the characters, a Czech writer, is named Ferdinand as an homage to Václav Havel. Havel wrote three plays with a protagonist named Ferdinand Vaněk, a stand-in for Havel himself. These plays were distributed by samizdat and became a symbol of the resistance. A number of Havel's friends then wrote their own Vaněk plays with Ferdinand Vaněk as a character. Stoppard continues in that tradition.

This play is one of several works in Stoppard's oeuvre concerned with artistic dissent against the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia: Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth also concerns this, as does Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Professional Foul.

The premiere of the play was attended by first president of the post-Communist Czech Republic and leading figure of the Velvet Revolution, Václav Havel (a friend of Stoppard's) and rock star Mick Jagger, whose band, The Rolling Stones, features in the final scene of the play. Jagger has worked with Stoppard previously, having produced the film Enigma, for which Stoppard wrote the screenplay, and has, along with his production company Jagged Films, "approached" Stoppard "for the movie rights" to the play Rock 'n' Roll
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I saw a performance of that play in San Francisco several years ago. I liked it.
Picklebobble2 · 56-60, M
Stoppard’s work is always worth seeing

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