MAY 21-23, 2010
THE ABBEY THEATER, DUBLIN, IRELAND
"The Past is Still Ahead," an endearing, heart-wrenching tale
of the life and poetry of Marina Tsvetaeva, one of Russia's most
of Marina Tsvetaeva
Romanova as Marina in Moscow production, with her holy writing desk.
at Mayakovsky Academic Theatre: L-R: Sophia Romma (playwright), Alexander
Rapoport (plays NKVD officer), Yelena Romanova (plays Marina Tsvetaeva).
where Marina Tsvetaeva died.
of Marina Tsvetaeva
The play is written in English by the
Russian-born NY playwright Sophia Romma (who also writes
as Sophia Murashkovsky) and is based on a monologue by Israeli
playwright Oded Be'eri. It will be directed by Ms. Romma for this
production. The piece stars Yelena Romanova, a well-known Russian
actress of theater and film, as the famous poet.
"The Past Is Still Ahead" premiered at the legendary Mayakovsky Academic
Art Theater in Moscow on April 25, 2007, directed by François
Rochaix and Yuri Joffe. It was presented at Manhattan's Cherry Lane
Theatre in December, 2007.
of Yelena Romanova as Marina Tsvetaeva
Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (1892-1941),
a great Russian poet of the twentieth century, was also one of Stalin's
most prominent victims. Her life reads like a profound, tragic reflection
of Russian suffering during the first half of the twentieth century, and
her popularity is perhaps greater today than ever before. She was inspired
by contemporaries like Akhmatova and Rilke, studied the philosophy of
Swedenborg, and blended classical and modern poetry in a unique manner.
Her whirling and staccato rhythms were forceful and original. Her lyric
poems fill ten collections; the uncollected lyrics would add at least
another volume. Dmitri Shostakovich set six of Tsvetaeva's poems to music.
Set in her last days in 1941, the play is an unfolding series of reflections
on her life and a testament to all who suffer great loss under prejudice
and oppressive regimes. The play is not specifically about her poetry,
nor is it biographical. Rather it spins off the shards of the poet's shattered,
dramatic life as it was destroyed by a tumultuous period in Russia's history.
The playscript draws generously from her poetry and letters, including
her correspondence with Rainer Maria Rilke in the summer of 1926. (Marina
never actually met her cherished Rilke, but their correspondence was an
escape from the political turmoil and social devastation of the Russian
Revolution.) Throughout the play, Marina consults her Muse, an angelic
beauty who softly sings her poetry. She also engages in dialogues with
her stern, cynical mother, who ferociously grinds her fingers to the bone
on a piano, perched center stage. Marina sings poetic madrigals and longs
for the end of a rope to end her misery. Always in need of friends, lovers,
and the company of poets, she engages in a mystical tango on stage with
her raven-haired lesbian poet lover, Sophia Parnok (based on the poem
"I'm glad your sickness is not of my will"), which her innocent husband,
Sergey Efron, views from aside, in utter distress. In Act 2, she is interrogated
by an NKVD Officer, who appears as a dark presence throughout the play,
representing the horror and pressure to which Tsvetaeva was subjected
in the last years of her life.
Yelena Romanova (Marina Tsvetaeva)
has starred in more than twenty leading roles in the theatre and cinema.
She has performed in Geneva with François Rochaix in "Atelje",
and played the lead in a great many foreign films in America, Sweden and
Greece. The NKVD Officer is played by Alexander Rapoport, an accomplished
actor in theater and film in New York and Moscow, who is also known for
his TV appearances on MOSFILM. Inna Leytush, a world renowned concert
pianist, plays Marina Tsvetaeva's wise-cracking Mother. Three opera vocalists,
Soprano Yulia Frenkel, Soprano Helen Fousteris and Soprano
Veronica Mitina, alternate in the role of Marina's Muse. They perform
Tsvetaeva's poems as set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich, including "From
Where Does This Tenderness Come." ." Other music is from Shostakovich,
Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Schubert and Zelenaya. Musical
Director is Boris Borovoy. American actor Tosh Marks
plays Rainer Maria Rilke.
Oded Be-Eri is the author of the monologue upon which this
play is based. He is a prolific Israeli author, playwright, director and
producer in both theater and the broadcast media. Be-Eri is founder and
director of the Third Floor Theater in Jaffa, Tel-Aviv, and founder and
artistic director of Ashdod Municipal Theatre. He has also been a long-term
editor and presenter of radio programs about literature and arts in the
Israeli Broadcasting Service. He served as chief editor at the Dani Books
Publishing House and founded his own Publishing House, Mimosa. Mr. Be-Eri
originally adapted the monologue upon which this play is based as a star
vehicle for Yelena Romanova. His monologue was translated into English
by Doreen Dor, and this was the basis for Sophia Romma's play, which was
initially presented in Moscow in April.
Director François Rochaix is Founder and General Director
of the Théâtre de Carouge in Geneva and a world renowned
director of operas and plays. Among others, he has directed "La Traviata,"
"Aida," "Nabucco," "Carmen," "Cosi fan Tutti," "Parsifal," "The Turn of
the Screw," "Death in Venice," "The Rake's Progress," "Pelléas
et Mélisande," "Dialogues des Carmélite" and Wagner's Ring
Cycle at institutions including The Grand Théâtre de Genève,
The Scottish opera, Opera North, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Cleveland
Opera, and The Seattle Opera. His dramatic credits include "Richard II,"
"Henry IV," "Mother Courage," "Arturo Ui," "A Doll's House," "The Game
of Life" and "Thunderstorm." In Moscow, Rochaix has directed "Victor"
by Vitrac and "The Event" by Nabokov.
Playwright/director Sophia Romma (who also writes under the name
Sophia Murashkovsky) emigrated with her parents from Russia 27 years ago.
She received her MFA at NYU and her Ph.D. from the prestigious Gorky Literary
Institute in Moscow. She is author of the film "Poor Liza," directed by
Slava Tsukerman ("Liquid Sky") starring Oscar Winner Ben Gazzara, Oscar
Winner Lee Grant and Barbora Babulova. The film adapts a classic Russian
story by Nikolai Karamzin about a beautiful peasant girl who is seduced
and forsaken by a young nobleman. "Poor Liza" won the Grand Prix Garnet
Bracelet for best screenplay at the Gatchena Literature and Film Festival
in St. Petersburg in 2000. She has had three productions at La MaMa E.T.C.:
"Love, in the Eyes of Hope, Dies Last" (1997), a journey through contemporary
Jewish/Russian immigration in a series of eight playlets, "Coyote, Take
Me There!" (1999), a surrealistic work on the ordeal of immigration and
the corruption of the American dream, and "Defenses Of Prague" (2004),
a story of revenge set among the gypsies in 1968, on the brink of the
Soviet invasion of Prague. In "Shoot Them in the Cornfields" (2006 at
the Producers Club Theater), a fictionalized family history that time
trips between World War II, The Khrushchev Reign, and the heady days of
the Coup d'etat of 1991. Last season, her "Absolute Clarity," a tale of
a teenage heroine, a white raven and rebellious young artist searching
for love and absolution, was presented Off-Broadway at the Players Theatre.
In 2005, Romma's anthology of poetry, "God and My Good" was published
by the Gorky Literary Institute. In 2006 her collection of poems, "Garden
of the Avant-garde" was published by Noble House. Ms. Romma has co-directed
her play "Defenses of Prague" with Obie-winner and Tony Nominated playwright,
Leslie Lee. She has also directed Mr. Lee's one-act play, "You're Not
Here to Talk about Beethoven." In 2004, she directed Dan Simon's play
"Winning" and Austin Phillips play "Back in the Day" for the Fall Drama
Series at the Schomburg Center in conjunction with Frederick Douglass
Creative Arts Center, where Ms. Romma instructs classes in Playwriting
At the Russian premiere last April, Profile, a prestigious Moscow art
and cultural newspaper, reported that "the audience, comprised mainly
of foreign ambassadors, elitist Russians, poets, singers, and artists,
applauded way into the night and would not let the actors depart the stage."
The reviewer (Alexander Karavaev) commended Sophia Romma's adaptation
of the poetry to the stage, writing, "Marina Tsvetaeva, a poet who
the Russians do not easily digest as a person but adore as a poet, is
not simple to translate. Ms. Romma, who takes great liberty with Tsvetaeva's
poetry, manages to capture the essence of her poems without destroying
meaning." The review deemed it "pleasant and surprising"
to witness such interest in a Russian poet from an Israeli author and
ABOUT MARINA IVANOVNA TSVETAEVA
Tsvetaeva and her husband, Sergey Yakovlevich Efron
Born into the upper class to an art
historian father and a musician mother, Marina Ivanona Tsvetaeva was groomed
by her mother to be a musician, but her defining talent was literary.
Her first book of poems was published in 1910; its success brought her
into the Russian literary circle. She met and married a military cadet
named Sergey Yakovlevich Efron. Her love for him was obsessive, yet it
did not prevent her from having affairs, including one with the poet Osip
Mandelstam, which she celebrated in a collection of poems called Mileposts.
At around the same time, she also had an affair with the lesbian poet
Sofia Parnok, whom she addressed in a cycle of poems which at times she
called "The Friend," and at other times "The Mistake."
Efron sided with the White Russians and she moved to the Crimea with
him, where she wrote poems between 1918 and 1920 in praise of the White
armies and their fight against Bolshevism. She was subsequently separated
from him for five years, during which time she became trapped in the Moscow
famine, which killed her youngest daughter, and wrote a series of political
poems called The Demesne of the Swans. She also wrote several plays for
a close friend, the actress Sofia Gollidey.
Since her husband had fought on the "wrong side," in 1922 she was
forced to emigrate with him to Western Europe, where she created the greater
part of her work. Through letters, she developed a lasting friendship
with Boris Pasternak. Efron became a Soviet spy and eventually had to
flee France to escape indictment for the murder of another Soviet agent.
The Paris intelligentsia blamed her for his actions and turned their backs
on her. She returned to Russia during the height of the Stalin terror,
where her husband was arrested and executed; Marina and her family fell
under a dark cloud of suspicion. She was evacuated from Moscow to the
Tartar Autonomous Republic, where she hanged herself in 1941.
Mayakovsky Academic Theater
"The Past Is Still Ahead" premiered
at the legendary Mayakovsky
Academic Theater in
Moscow on April 25, 2007. This is one of the major theaters in Moscow,
of equal standing with the Moscow Art Theater, the Chekhov Theater of
Moscow, Gorky Theater of Moscow, Savrimenik Theater, Leninsky Comsomol
Theater, The Pushkin Theater, The Maly Theater and Ostrovski Theater of
Moscow. The only more prominent institution in Moscow is the Bolshoi Theater.
When founded in 1922, The Mayakovsky Academic Theater took over a historic
building that had previously housed the Paradiz Theater in the late 19th
century, hosting foreign and St. Petersburg companies and celebrities
of the time, including Sarah Bernhardt and Eleanora Duse. Its credo is
that theater's expressive means must renew permanently to provoke response
from contemporary audiences.
press information or press photos, please contact:
Jonathan Slaff, (212) 924-0496.