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Jo Clifford - The Plays - Teatro do Mundo
 The Tree of Knowledge    2011
 Sex, Chips and The Holy Ghost    2011
 The Tree of Life    2010
 The Seagull    2010
 La Princesse de Cleves    2010
 Every One    2010
 An Apple A Day    2009
 Having a Heart    2009
 Spam Fritters    2009
 Chrystal and the General    2009
 Yerma    2008
 An Opera for St. Monan    2008
 Blood Wedding    2008
 Life is a Dream    2008
 The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven    2008
 Leave to Remain    2007
 Tchaikovsky and the Queen of Spades    2007
 Lucy's Play    2007
 The Force of Destiny    2006
 Faust Parts One and Two    2006
 Anna Karenina    2005
 The World    2005
 Great Expectations    2005
 God's New Frock    2005
 God's New Frock (film)    2004
 Sitios    2004
 La Celestina    2004
 God's New Frock    2003
 The Chimes    2003
 S.D.O.    2002
 Madeleine    2002
 Queen of Spades    2002
 The Constant Prince    2001
 Baltasar and Blimunda    2001
 Charles Dickens: The Haunted Man    2001
 Bintou    2000
 Torquemada parts one and two    2000
 Hansel and Gretel    2000
 Inés de Castro (BBC2)    2000
 Ain’t it Grand to be bloomin’ well dead    1999
 Letters from a Strange Land    1999
 The Night Journey    1999
 Life is a Dream    1998
 The Magic Flute    1998
 The Leopard parts one and two    1997
 Writing Home to Mother    1997
 Bazaar    1997
 An Opera for Terezin    1996
 Inés de Castro (Opera)    1996
 War in America    1996
 Light in the Village    1995
 Wuthering Heights    1995
 La Vie de Boheme parts one and two    1994
 Visoes de Febre    1994
 Dreaming    1994
 Celestina (Radio)    1993
 La Vie de Boheme    1993
 Anna    1993
 Inés de Castro (Radio)    1992
 Don Duardos    1992
 What's in a Name    1992
 Macbeth    1991
 The Price of Everything    1991
 Ten Minute Play    1991
 Light in the Village    1991
 The Girl Who Fell to Earth or Shoot the Archduke!    1991
 Quevedo: The Soul's Dark Night    1990
 Santiago    1990
 Inés de Castro    1990
 The Magic Theatre    1989
 Celestina    1989
 Inés de Castro    1989
 The House of Bernarada Alba    1989
 Schism in England    1988
 Great Expectations    1988
 Playing with Fire    1987
 Heaven Bent, Hell Bound    1987
 Lucy's Play    1986
 Losing Venice (Radio)    1986
 Losing Venice    1985
 Romeo and Juliet    1984
 Ending Time    1984
 Desert Places    1983
 The Doctor of Honour    1983
 The House with Two Doors    1982
Queen of Spades

Written: 2002

First Performed: Pitlochry Theatre

I came to this story through Tchaikovsky's opera. I was intrigued by the figure of the old countess, whose story struck me as particularly interesting and poignant, even though she is not given much importance in either the opera or the Pushkin story on which it is based.

I wanted to try to imagine her more fully and find out who she was and what happened to her.

At the same time, I began to get intrigued by the story of Tchaikovsky's life. He had a particularly intriguing relationship with a wealthy lady called Nadezhda von Meck. They had an intensely close relationship that existed only in the letters they wrote to each other. And even though she became Tchaikovsky's patron, and gave absolutely crucial financial support in the years when he was trying to establish himself as a composer, they agreed that they would never meet. They were afraid that meeting in the flesh would spoil or even destroy the intensely close relationship their letters permitted them to enjoy in spirit.

I also became fascinated by the story of Tchaikovsky's death. It was always assumed that he died through drinking contaminated water in a cholera outbreak. But more recent research strongly indicates that in fact his death was deliberate: that it was suicide. Tchaikovsky was a homosexual in a society that was profoundly hostile to homosexuality. In middle age, he had a brief love affair with a young man who was a member of the Imperial family; his contemporaries in the St. Petersburg elite are said to have formed an informal but immensely influential 'Court of Honour' that, in order to avoid public scandal, effectively sentenced Tchaikovsky to death. It seems almost certain that a combination of intense social pressure from his contemporaries and his own self-loathing and guilt drove Tchaikovsky to drink contaminated water deliberately both to kill himself and even conceal the real reason for his death.

He died comparatively young, while still at the very height of his powers. He lived in a very reactionary age, rather like her own, when the powers that be were resisting with all their might what would eventually prove to be irresistible pressures for change.

It is quite plausible that, had he been allowed to live, he would have witnessed the Russian Revolution of 1917. The more I researched into these events, the more I was struck by how in the midst of it all people still tried to keep on living their normal lives.

All of us are living through a period of the most intense change, and it is difficult to see how our current social and political structures will be able to contain them all. And in the midst of it all, we, too, keep on living as if nothing was really happening. For even in the midst of the most cataclysmic change imaginable, people still need to buy food, eat, sleep, put their children to bed, and bury their dead as best they can.

I have tried to tie all these different threads together in this play. And do so in a way that will fascinate and intrigue you, too. In a way that may make you want to laugh, cry, or perhaps even get very angry: just like me. That will perhaps make you want to think more about it all. And in a way that will above all, and most importantly, give pleasure.