© Anna-Maria Löffelberger


Lee Hall / Austrian premiere

Based on the screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky / A cooperation of the Salzburg State Theatre and the ORF Salzburg broadcasting studio

Austrian premiere 09/25/2020 / ORF Salzburg broadcasting studio


Howard Beale, a news anchor at a big American network, has not been getting good ratings lately. After the network decides to replace him with a younger colleague, he has a moment of truth: As a consequence of his dismissal, he announces on the air that he will “blow his brains out” during the next broadcast – his last. This unacceptable behaviour might be expected to cause a disaster for the network – but the ratings and media reactions leave no doubt that within a few short seconds, Howard Beale has become a star. Of course, he is no longer suitable for the post of a serious news anchor, but he is given his own show where he can preach as a populist prophet to the angry, unheard masses – a job at which Howard excels!

“Network” portrays an overheated media landscape in which opinions matter more than facts. Paddy Chayefsky’s film of the same name won four Academy Awards in 1976. Lee Hall dramatised the script. In the play’s first stage production at the London National Theatre in 2017, which also ran on New York’s Broadway from November 2018, Bryan Cranston (e.g. “Breaking Bad”) played Howard Beale, winning an Olivier Award as “Best Actor” for this role in 2018.

The parallels to today’s media world are eerie, to say the least.

Lee Hall (*1967) studied at Cambridge University and launched his career writing radio plays for the BBC. His screenplay for “Billy Elliot” was filmed in 1999 and was nominated for an Academy Award. Hall went on to write several theatre plays and many screenplays, including adaptations of “War Horse” and “Pride and Prejudice” (starring Keira Knightley), as well as “Rocketman”, a biopic about Elton John.

Claus Tröger has many years of experience as a stage director, both in Austria and abroad. He has mounted numerous productions at the Salzburg State Theatre, including several world premieres of new plays. It was his idea to stage the Austrian premiere of the play “Network” at the ORF Salzburg broadcasting studio. He is aided by his long-time collaborator, stage and costume designer Katja Schindowski.