Howard Brenton's Drawing the Line To Be Live-Streamed from London's Hampstead Theatre at Final Performance

By Mark Shenton
07 Jan 2014

Howard Brenton's sold-out Drawing the Line, currently running at London's Hampstead Theatre, is to have its final performance Jan. 11 live-streamed around the world for free.



It follows a previous live-streaming of Brenton's previous play for Hampstead Theatre, The Arrest of Ai Weiwei, which was watched by thousands in 84 countries.

The play, inspired by conversations that Brenton had on a visit to India in 2009, exposes the chaos of the Partition that has shaped the modern world. In 1947 Mr. Justice Cyril Radcliffe was summoned by the Prime Minister from the Court where he was presiding and given an extraordinary mission. He was to travel to India, a country he had never visited and of which he had almost no knowledge, and, with limited survey information, no expert support and no knowledge of cartography, to draw the border which would divide the Indian sub-continent into two new Sovereign Dominions: India and Pakistan.

He had only six weeks in which to complete the task. Wholly unsuited to his role, Radcliffe was unprepared for the dangerous whirlpool of political intrigue and passion into which he is plunged; one of religious and racial turmoil, blood feuds and even an illicit liaison between the Leader of the Congress Party and the Viceroy’s wife. As he began to break under the pressure he came to realize that he held in his hands the fate of millions of people.

Howard Davies directs a cast that is led by Tom Beard as Radcliffe and also includes David Annen, Paul Bazely, Lucy Black, Silas Carson, Abigail Cruttenden, Neil D’Souza, Tanveer Ghani, Andrew Havill, Salma Hoque, Rez Kempton, John Mackay, Simon Nagra, Nikesh Patel, Brendan Patricks, Shalini Peiris and Peter Singh.

In a press statement, Brenton commented of the live streaming, "On behalf of the company, we're delighted that Drawing the Line will be live streamed. The play has big themes: the end of the British Empire, the birth of India and Pakistan and the terrible human consequences of the creation of the border between them. But it also celebrates the humanity and brilliance of the leaders of the different communities and their visions for a better future. Live streaming is a very exciting way of setting up our theatre anywhere on the subcontinent, or in the world, so anyone can see our play."

Hampstead's artistic director Edward Hall added, "We are delighted that Hampstead Theatre can continue to break new ground, following our first successful live-streaming event of The Arrest of Ai Weiwei in April, and live-stream for free this extraordinary play by Howard Brenton. We hope people all over the world will engage with this fascinating piece of history which has been rarely explored on the stage until now. We are grateful to Howard, the Cast and the Creative Team for their support in enabling us to show their work in this way."

The theatre is partnering with The Guardian newspaper to promote the live-streaming, which can be watched via hampsteadtheatre.com or theguardian.com/stage or Hampstead Theatre's YouTube channel, beginning at 7:30 PM (U.K. time, or 2:30 PM EST) Jan. 11.

Viewers can also interact via twitter throughout the live-streaming using #DTLLiveStream. The show will be available on demand for 72 hours following the live-stream (U.K. time, or 8 AM EST) on both websites. There will be a post-show live webchat with Howard Brenton on Jan. 14 at 1 PM on theguardian.com/stage.