The Divide: Synopsis

Administrator's note: Given The Divide was first unveiled to the public on stage, it might be assumed The Divide is an Ayckbourn play suitable for performance. It is worth re-iterating, The Divide is not a play and is - first and foremost - a piece of prose. It just happens to have been first made public as staged readings.

The core 80,000 word manuscript was used as the basis for a gala reading in 2015 for which a third of the material was excised to keep down the running time; it still ran to eight hours including intervals. In 2017, the Old Vic staged the piece at the Edinburgh International Festival, again altering the manuscript to two three-hour long evenings presented via bookends as a lecture.

For the initial gala reading of The Divide in 2015, Alan Ayckbourn provided the following notes:

Not so long ago, let it not be forgotten, as decreed by The Preacher, Men and Women lived apart on separate sides of the Divide in segregated isolation.
The celebrated novelist Soween Clay-Flin recalls this period in our recent history with dramatised readings based on documents of the period, including her own personal diary as a young girl who lived through it and survived to tell the tale.

For the Old Vic's production at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2017, the following advertising copy was used.

Unfolding over two parts, The Divide is a tale for our own turbulent times that unflinchingly examines a dystopian society of brutal repression, forbidden love and seething insurrection.

A century from now, England has been decimated by a deadly contagion. Contact between men and women is fatal. They are forcibly separated by a divide. Men wear white as a mark of their purity and women – still infected – wear black as a sign of their sin.

Brother and sister Elihu and Soween grow up in a small town devastated by disease, learning the ways of the closely monitored society around them. But when Elihu falls for the daughter of two radical mothers, he risks not only fatal disease but also igniting a bloody revolution.

A full synopsis will published during late 2017.