We asked Colin Lawrence, the Director of 'Night of January 16th', some questions about BAWDS' upcoming production...
Colin, what drew you to this particular play?
One of the things that attracted me to Night of January 16th is that it’s a courtroom play with a difference. Twelve members of the audience are the jury and when their verdict is delivered one of two endings takes place. I also liked the fact that Ayn Rand got the idea for her play from a real life case in the 1930s when, following the death of a highly successful businessman, it was discovered that his vast financial empire had been based on a gigantic fraud. The malice that followed his death appealed to Rand.
But it’s a play about a murder, isn’t it?
Yes, Karen Andre is on trial for the murder of her boss and lover, the financier, Bjorn Faulkner. But, was it murder, or was it suicide? That’s for the audience to decide. Nothing is simple in this play. Ayn Rand deliberately structured the play to make sure that the audience’s view continually wavers from one direction to another.
The play was written in 1933, are you setting it in period?
The original script was set in the 1930s, but in the late 1960s, prior to a New York revival, Ayn Rand made a number of editorial changes to update the language. Correspondence discovered after her death in 1982 showed that she regarded these changes as definitive; she went so far as to say that they must appear in any future printing of the script. I’d tracked down a copy of the ‘definitive’ script, liked the updated version, and decided to stage that version bringing the action of the play into the 1960s. Another reason for choosing the 1960s was that murder investigations today rely heavily on advanced forensic and DNA evidence which wasn’t available at the time Rand conceived the play, and later updated the text.
Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the story?
Well, on the night of January 16th business executive Bjorn Faulkner and his secretary Karen Andre were in the penthouse of the Faulkner Building in New York City when Faulkner apparently fell to his death. Karen is now on trial for the murder of her employer. As the trial begins, it soon becomes apparent that Andre wasn’t just Faulkner's secretary, but also his mistress. A series of witnesses are called to testify and conflicting stories about what actually happened on the night of Faulkner's death start to emerge. The key element of any trial is the credibility of not only the witnesses, but their individual stories. On one level, Night of January 16th is a gripping drama about the rise and destruction of a brilliant and ruthless man. On a deeper level, it’s a superb dramatic objectification of Ayn Rand's vision of human strength and weakness.
I hope that our revival of the play in its definitive form will prove both intriguing and entertaining.
Night of January 16th runs at the ADC Theatre from Tuesday 25 April. Get your tickets here.
Night of January 16th
Tue 25 - Sat 29 April 2023, 7.45PM
Sat 29 April 2023, 2.30PM
Tickets from £11