John Banville talks to Michael Miller about Love in the Wars, his English adaptation of Kleist’s Penthesilea

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Heinrich von Kleist and John Banville

Heinrich von Kleist and John Banville

John Banville and Michael Miller discuss Love in the Wars, his free English adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s play, Penthesilea, with a digression about the rest of Mr. Banville’s work, before returning to the play, which will receive its world premiere at Bard College Summerscape. Kleist’s theatrical ambition was to fuse Greek tragedy with Shakespearean “burlesque.” The work shows his pessimistic world view spiced with black Prussian humor. In this interview Mr. Banville will compare Kleist to Kafka and Beckett.

Kleist’s plays are rarely produced in North America, and this will be a unique opportunity to see one of his masterpieces in a version by the great Irish novelist, conceived especially to bring the work to life for English-speaking audiences—an event not to be missed.


Theater at Bard SummerScape 2014
World premiere of Love in the Wars (published 2005)
Adaptation by John Banville (b.1945)
after Penthesilea (1808) by Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811)
Penthesilea – Birgit Huppuch
Achilles – Chris Stack
Diomedes – Chad Goodridge
Agamemnon – KeiLyn Jones
High Priestess – Karen Kandel
Prothoe – Karen Pittman
Asteria – Stacey Yen
Artistic team:
Director – Ken Rus Schmoll
Set Designer – Marsha Ginsberg
Lighting Designer – Tyler Micoleau
Sound Designer – Leah Gelpe
Fight Director – Thomas Schall
Production Stage Manager – Megan Smith
Assistant Stage Manager – Mallory Hewell

Thursday, July 10 at 7:30pm (preview)
Friday, July 11 at 7:30pm (preview)
Saturday, July 12 at 7:30pm *
Sunday, July 13 at 2pm *
Wednesday, July 16 at 2pm
Thursday, July 17 at 7:30pm
Friday, July 18 at 7:30pm
Saturday, July 19 at 2pm
Saturday, July 19 at 7:30pm
Sunday, July 20 at 2pm *

Love is the Wars is available in hardbound and softcover editions, published by Gallery Books, Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland, available through most good booksellers.

About the author

Michael Miller

Michael Miller, Editor and Publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts, was trained as a classicist and art historian at Harvard and Oxford, worked in the art world for many years as a curator and dealer, and contributed reviews and articles to Bostonia, Master Drawings, Drawing, Threshold, and North American Opera Journal, as well as numerous articles for scholarly and popular periodicals. He has taught courses in classics, the English language, and art history at Oberlin, Rutgers, New York University, the New School, and Williams. Currently, when he is not at work on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, he writes fiction, pursues photography, and publishes scholarly work. In 2011 he contributed an introductory essay to Leonard Freed: The Italians / exh. cat. Io Amo L’Italia, exhibition at Le Stelline, Milan, and wrote the revised the section on American opera houses in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is currently at work on a libretto for a new opera by Lewis Spratlan, Midi, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea set in the French West Indies, ca. 1930.

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