In Stoppard's new work, characters discuss the music of the Plastic People of the Universe and their influence on Czech society - two of their tunes are also featured. In anticipation of Rock 'n' Roll's U.S. premiere, the Plastics will hit the stage of Joe's Pub at 9:30 PM.
The Plastic People of the Universe formed in Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia in 1968. Influenced by Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground, the not-overtly-political band utilized an improvisational style with a large underground subculture following. Shortly after the band's founding, the Czech government revoked the group's musicians' license.
In 1976, after performing at a music festival, the band and other members of the underground culture were arrested and put on trial by the Communist government. Convicted of "organized disturbance of the peace," members were sentenced to prison.
In response to the trial, playwright Václav Havel, along with other artists, students, musicians and intellectuals, drafted the Charter 77. The document criticized the Communist government's failings on issues of human rights and freedom of speech.
Even with the Velvet Revolution in the 1980's, it was too late for the Plastic People of the Universe, who would disband until 1997. After reuniting for a series of legendary concerts in Prague at the request of playwright Havel, the Plastics toured through the U.S. and Canada in the year after. With the success of Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll in London, the Plastics again reunited for a 2007 London concert.
Tickets for the Plastic People of the Universe's concert at Joe's Pub are available by calling (212) 967-7555 or by visiting www.joespub.com
Rock 'n' Roll begins previews on Broadway Oct. 19, with an official opening set for Nov. 4 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Members of the London company, including Brian Cox, Sinéad Cusack and Rufus Sewell (winner of the Olivier, London Evening Standard and London Critics’ Circle Awards for his performance), along with Nicole Ansari and Alice Eve, will appear in the Broadway production under the direction of Trevor Nunn. Tickets for Rock 'n' Roll are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com