Death & the Ploughman (Photo by Al Zanyk)

Death and the Ploughman

April 2004
Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio

How do we manage to live full and vibrant lives while death breathes down our neck? Death and the Ploughman, a hauntingly beautiful play written in Germany in 1401, awakens the complex mystery encased in this deeply disturbing question. A man loses his beloved wife in her prime and demands some answers for his ensuing pain. He asks Death to respond. The result is an extraordinarily contemporary exploration of what it means to be alive in the world.

Note about process:

Anne discovered Death and the Ploughman in 2002 at the tiny Gate Theater in London, and it stopped her in her tracks. The profundity and continued relevance of this text, written 600 years ago in Bohemia at a paradigm-shifting moment in human history, is a remarkable human achievement. It was written at a time when the theretofore accepted medieval sensibilities were suddenly called into question—faith, the meaning of life, religious hierarchy, authority—leading to the start of the Renaissance. Today we are undergoing another paradigm shift, where religion, values, and meaning must be examined from fresh new angles. This play by Johannes von Saaz can be a great help to us now.

Death and the Ploughman captures these heady issues in a dynamic and visually arresting production. The rich oracity of the dialogue is reinforced by the striking physicality of actors Will Bond, Ellen Lauren and Stephen Webber. We join a man as he journeys through the labyrinth of his own soul.

“Anne Bogart has given fascinating shape and persuasive form to a timeless theme of ineffable beauty, sadness and spirituality. … Bond’s wiry intensity gives palpable force to his grief. … Lauren’s chameleonic Woman shifts from a statue of frozen grief to a wistful ghost of desires past. … Webber’s Death projects an aura of debonair mystery. If he weren’t Death, he’d be the life of the party. … Bogart’s SITI Company approaches its best.” —Columbus Dispatch

Directed by:
Anne Bogart      


Translated by:
Michael West


From an original work by Johannes Von Saaz


Created by:
SITI Company


Will Bond, Ellen Lauren & Stephen Webber


Lighting Design: 
Brian H Scott


Set and Costume Design: 
James Schuette


Sound Design: 
Darron L West


Original Stage Manager:
Elizabeth Moreau


Associate Producers:
Roberta Pereira
David Roberts


Executive Director:
Megan Wanlass Szalla

Commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and by SITI Company with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.