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A: Trevor Griffiths Pf: 1970, Manchester Pb: 1972 G: Pol. drama in 7 scenes S: Hotel room and factory, Turin, 1920 C: 6m, 2fIn the early days of Communism, Kabak is sent from Moscow in response to the workers' occupation of the Fiat motor-car factories in Turin, led by the activist Antonio Gramsci. He has in his care an unreformed Russian émigrée, Angelica, who is addicted to cocaine and is dying. Gramsci is a popular leader, encouraging proletarian revolution in a way that is coloured by dangerously optimistic idealism. Kabak is the steely emissary from the Comintern sent to place a proto-Stalinist check on the workers' subversion. To Gramsci, Kabak's intervention seems like betrayal; to Kabak, his firmness is essential to prevent the workers sliding into dangerous anarchy and thus delaying the hoped-for national revolution, which has to be worked for in a painstakingly disciplined fashion. Kabak therefore reaches an agreement with Valetta, the factory-owner, and the workers' strike collapses. Kabak leaves for Moscow, abandoning Angelica.

A: Trevor Griffiths Pf: 1970, Manchester Pb: 1972 G: Pol. drama in 7 scenes S: Hotel room and factory, Turin, 1920 C: 6m, 2f

Griffiths's first full-length play for the stage was written ‘as a sort of Jacobinical response’ to the failure of the 1968 student revolt in France. Griffiths recognized that capitalism was not generally perceived as ‘an irreducible, inescapable ugliness’, and that romantic gestures of revolt would not suffice to dislodge it. While emotionally it is easier to empathize with the dashing Gramsci, intellectually one has to recognize that Kabak's insistence on discipline is a necessary prerequisite for revolution. As with Dorst's Toller, the audience must consider whether such harsh discipline is worth the cost.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Trevor Griffiths (b. 1935)


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