People, Places and Things

Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, 2018
Author: Duncan Macmillan
Directed by Marián Amsler

about the production

A brilliantly written tragicomedy by contemporary British author and director Duncan Macmillan, People, Places and Things tells the captivating story Emma, an actress who ends up in rehab and is forced to admit who she really is. For the doctors and therapists, Emma is a tough nut to crack, and for Emma, drugs remain the only way to exist in this mad age. After all she has gone through, the most difficult thing is loving oneself.

The play was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for the Best Play of the Year and had its world premiere at the National Theatre in London in 2015, in co-production with Headlong Theatre Company. It reaped remarkable success and was later staged at the Wyndham Theatre at London’s West End. In 2017, it was staged at St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York. The London production was directed by Jeremy Herrin and the play’s main character was masterfully portrayed by actress Denise Gough, whose performance earned her the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2016.

‘Our culture tends to glamorise or stigmatise addicts, make them into morality tales or victim narratives or punchines, or otherwise ignore the realities of addiction, both for the addict and those around them. I wanted to write about the process of recovery which is something which tends to be underrepresented in discussions of addiction also a subject which is fraught with controversy and debate. The more I looked into it the more I struggled with some of the central aspects of the support structures offered for addicts. I found the whole area irreconcilably contradictory, morally, intellectually and emotionally. I wrote the play, in part, as a way of grappling with that contradiction and to find a form for my anxieties and uncertain- ties on the issue. On a more practical level, there also seemed to me to be a worthwhile challenge in focusing on recovery. It seemed to me that one of the reasons recovery isn’t always dealt with accurately in popular culture is that it inherently rejects the kind of narrative structure that drama craves – we want a beginning, middle and end with a cathartic pay-off that provides meaning and a clear message. The reality of recovery is that it’s an on-going process with no end. It’s a daily struggle for your whole life. That seemed to me to be a provocative challenge as a writer – to create something without a beginning, middle and end which rendered its content inaccurate or exploitative, but which could deliver a satisfying whole story to an audience. One of the appeals of this, as a writer, is that it is not just about what it says about addiction, it goes beyond that. What is it like to be alive now? What is it to negotiate who we are from one moment to another, from one conversation to another. What strategies do we employ to carry on with our day? What is it to find a tribe? These are all huge existentialist questions. I wanted the play to be subjective in its form.’
(Excerpt from an interview with Duncan Macmillan, Exeter Northcott Theatre, 17 October 2017)


‘What is important is that the play does not merely deal with drugs, medicine or alcohol. It addresses the difficult dilemmas of the contemporary individual, to which patients admitted, it addresses the crisis of personality, relationships (for instance, the relationship of mother and daughter), family, faith in God and in oneself, and also theatre – Nina is an actress, after all. (…) This complex title was taken charge of by accomplished director Marián Amsler. He carefully followed the play’s rhythm and pace, changed positions, dynamics and moods so as not to bore the audience. (…) The play feels heavy, it mires the audience in a flood of thoughts, questions and themes – and does not end with the departure from the theatre hall, which may be considered its main strength.’
(Marta Žilková, 23 January 2018)


‘This play by young British playwright Duncan Macmillan broaches a contemporary topic (with a certain educational aspect), offers distinctive and internally complex characters and interesting plot twists. When this is coupled with modern direction, a thoughtfully impressive and effective set design and top-notch acting performances, the theatre is left with a title that has no problem selling out the grand hall and perhaps even tickles the palate of many a critic. However clichéd it might sound, things really worked out this time in Nitra.’
(Katarína Cvečková 11 march 2018)


‘Amsler, who is systematic in staging contemporary drama in Slovak and Czech theatres, presents relevant issues and translates them in a comprehensible language strengthened by the hidden essence by which he interprets theatre. (…) People, Places and Things at the Andrej Bagar Theatre opens and analyses the possibilities of return from the world of addiction. It arouses hidden emotions, addresses the difficult topic with dignity and yet does not toy with pathos or woe.’
(Marek Godovič, 26 February 2018)



translated and directed by Marián Amsler
costumes: Martin Kotúček
dramaturgy: Marie Špalová
set design: Juraj Kuchárek
music: Ivan Acher
choreographic collaboration: Stanislava Vlčeková
characters and cast:
Emma: Barbora Andrešičová,  Doctor/Mother: Eva Pavlíková,  Foster/ Father: Branislav Matuščin, Mark/Konstantin: Roman Poláčik, Paul: Martin Nahálka, Meredith: Lenka Barilíková, T: Peter Oszlík, Laura: Andrea Sabová, Shaun: Martin Šalacha, Jodi: Anna Rakovská


Marián Amsler (1979) graduated in dramaturgy and theatre directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. Already his first student productions of Chekhov’s plays, Platonov and Ivanov earned him awards at international theatre festivals in Warsaw, Prague and Brno, as well as the Slovak theatre critics award DOSKY in the category Discovery of the Season. Since completing his studies, he has directed productions for many Slovak and Czech theatres. In 2005, he co-founded the independent Theatre Letí in Prague. From 2008, he was engaged as in-house director at HaDivadlo in Brno, where he was also artistic director from 2010 until 2014. From 2015 to 2018 He was the director and artistic director at the Theatre Astorka Korzo ‘90. He is an assistant professor at the Department of Directing and Dramaturgy of the Academy of Performing Arts. Some of his awards include: DOSKY theatre critics award for the Best Production of the Season (Pagans, 2012, Slovak National Theatre, Drama); Theatre News Award for Best Direction of the Season (The Expulsion of Gerta Schnirch, 2015, HaDivadlo Brno); DOSKY theatre critics award for the Best Production of the Season (Fanny and Alexander, 2016, Slovak National Theatre, Drama). As a prominent figure of the Slovak dramatic arts scene, he has made several appearances at Divadelná Nitra with his productions: 2002 – Tanya, Tanya (Academy of Performing Arts); 2003 – Platonov (Academy of Preforming Arts); 2012 – Pagans (Slovak National Theatre). In 2012, he curated the productions for the festival’s Slovak programme section.

Materials available

Video of the production: yes
scripts of the production SK, EN
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