Variety reports that several U.S. theatre companies are currently vying to produce the first play penned by Havel in over 18 years. Leaving makes its Czech debut at Prague's Na Vinohradech theatre in June 2008.
Leaving draws parallels from Shakespeare's King Lear and Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. Chancellor Vilém Rieger is the central character of Leaving, who faces a crisis after being removed from political power. Havel's wife, actress Dagmar Veškrnová, is slated to star in the Czech Republic debut under the direction of David Radok.
Paul Wilson, who has served as Havel's long-time English translator, has adapted the work for English audiences. Productions are also being pursued in the U.K., Sweden and Spain.
Leaving was originally slated to make its Czech debut at the National Theatre; however, Havel withdrew his work after a dispute over casting his wife Dagmar in the work. The published script of Leaving hits Czech bookstores this month, under the original Czech title Odchazeni.
Havel was an established playwright when he penned the Charter 77 manifesto, which responded to the 1976 incarceration of Czech rock group Plastic People of the Universe. Havel, along with other artists, students, musicians and intellectuals, drafted the Charter 77 under the tyranny of Communist rule. The document criticized the Communist government's failings on issues of human rights and freedom of speech. As a result of his protests, Havel found himself imprisoned numerous times during Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution. Since the fall of Communism, he has served two terms as president of the Czech Republic, resigning in 2003.