First World War satire prompts Brexit warning

The Olivier award winning group are working with actors from across Europe on a new adaptation of The Last Days of Mankind, which was written by Viennese writer Karl Kraus during WW1. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
The Olivier award winning group are working with actors from across Europe on a new adaptation of The Last Days of Mankind, which was written by Viennese writer Karl Kraus during WW1. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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A political satire about the First World War being shown in Scotland and featuring a European cast could be the last of its sort because of Brexit, the German director has warned.

Yuri Birte Anderson, directing Karl Krauss’s masterpiece Last Days of Mankind, along with Scottish director John Paul McGroarty at Leith Theatre, in Edinburgh, said she was “extremely worried” about the future of such collaborative plays.

The work, which has a cast of more than 30 actors, including around a dozen from seven theatre companies in Scotland, Germany, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Ireland and France, is funded by Creative Europe and Creative Scotland.

Creative Europe awarded £350,000 while Creative Scotland gave £80,000.

There had been plans to show the work in Europe but following the March 2019 deadline, the withdrawal of Scottish actors is likely to leave the project floundering.

There are currently seven ongoing collaborative projects with Scotland and European theatre companies.

Krauss (1874-1936), used contemporary news sources and first-person interviews to highlight issues such as fake news, racism and hate crimes and the cost paid in human lives and suffering as the First World War progressed.

Anderson, who has been working on the production for over four years, said: “This project couldn’t have been performed if it was not for the European Union.

“Even Creative Europe doesn’t know what’s happening. Before I applied for funding they told me that ‘as long as Brexit hasn’t happened you can still apply to us with Scottish and English partners.”

Ms Anderson added: “It is quite ironic that Krauss’s play which has at its heart the theme of unifying people, is itself under threat.

“It also acts as a warning as to what happens when people and nations turn against one another,. It resonates more than ever.”

The German Cultural Council has said the situation is a “mess”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The uncertainty of Brexit is a huge concern for many sectors in Scotland, not least for our creative industries. Access to EU funding and collaboration with other EU nations, as facilitated by Creative Europe, is important for Scottish theatre.

“We believe the UK government should seek to negotiate ongoing participation in such funding streams to maintain and safeguard their long-term impact, if the UK leaves the EU.”