In 2007, Mint Theater Company was awarded $100,000 from The Tony Randall Theatrical Fund to support a production of Leo Tolstoy’s dramatic landmark, THE POWER OF DARKNESS. Set in a peasant village in Russia, “Tolstoy’s ruthlessly detailed, coal-black drama”1 is a heartrending and cautionary tale about the consequences of pursuing personal gain while disregarding morality and the dictates of one’s own conscience.

THE POWER OF DARKNESS was written in 1886 but was banned in Russia where it was not produced until 1895 after Tolstoy satisfied the censor and agreed to provide an alternative for the play’s most powerful and horrific scene. Virtually unknown in this country, the play had received only three New York productions until Martin Platt staged his own “gritty new translation”2 nearly half a century later.

“The enterprising Mint Theater continues to impress with its canny unearthing of long-forgotten plays, and its revival of THE POWER OF DARKNESS is another coup,”3 hailed the New York Post. “The Mint gets livelier by the year,” writes New York Magazine, “not least by finding fresh ways to remind us that there were a lot of bad, bad people in the good old days.”4

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is one of the most important novelists in Western literature. The breadth of his vision and the range of his accomplishments are immense.

An enormously important figure in Russian literature and culture, Tolstoy is famous not only for his novels, short stories, and plays but also for his moral authority. While he was alive he attracted many disciples to the moral doctrines of “Tolstoyism” by the force of his personality and by his voluminous nonfictional writing on topics as wide-ranging as religion, civil disobedience, and vegetarianism. By the turn of the century, he had achieved worldwide recognition and prestige. The influence of his thought was felt not only by virtually all of Russia’s leading cultural figures, but also beyond Russia’s borders. However; the religious and moral movement founded by him did not remain strong after his death in 1910. Rather, his literary masterpieces have survived, retaining their freshness and vitality for new generations of readers. Tolstoy the artist has eclipsed Tolstoy the moralist–a fact that would have seemed incredible at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Tolstoy’s novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina continue to be held in high esteem by critics as among the best examples of the novel as a genre. Often overshadowed by his major novels and masterpieces of short fiction are Tolstoy’s brilliant plays, such as the tragedy The Power of Darkness and the satirical comedy The Fruits of Enlightenment. Tolstoy was a prolific writer; his complete works in Russian consist of forty-five volumes of fiction and another forty-five volumes of essays, correspondence, and diaries. Yet the huge number of works he produced is only one measure of the cultural force he represented.

Edward Wasiolek, University of Chicago. Excerpted from Gale’s Dictionary of Literary Biography.

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CAST

  • Nikita Mark Alhedeff
  • Mavra Lisa Altomare / Danielle Quisenberry
  • Anyutka Jennifer Bissell
  • Akim Steve Brady
  • Matryona Randy Danson
  • Pyotr Ignatitch, Policeman Peter Bretz
  • Bridgeroom Matthew A.J. Gregory
  • Marina Letitia Lange, Marion Wood
  • Akulina Anne Letscher
  • Ivan Peter Levine
  • Anisya Angela Reed, Mhari Sandoval
  • Mitrich Jeff Steitzer
  • Semyon Alok Tewari
  • Marfa, Anna Goldie Zwiebel

CREATIVES

  • Set Design Bill Clarke
  • Costume Design Holly Poe Durbin
  • Lighting Design Jeff Nellis
  • Music Ellen Mandel
  • Sound Design Jane Shaw
  • Properties Design Scott Brodsky
  • Casting
    Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter & Paul Hardt
  • Stage Manager Allison Deutsch
  • Assistant Stage Manager Lyndsey Goode
  • Assistant Costume Design Jeannette Aultz Look
  • Assistant Lighting Designer Ben Krall
  • Assistant Sound Designer Jessica Paz
  • Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
  • Graphics Hey Jude Design, Inc.

JEFFERSON GATTRALL

A discussion focused on the initial reaction to the play and the controversy surrounding its most shocking scene, which had to be altered before the play could finally be performed in Russia.

PROFESSOR HILDE HOOGENBOOM, SUNY ALBANY

Dr. Hoogenboom’s discussion focuses on Tolstoy in the context of 19th century Russian intellectual history.

PROFESSOR MAUDE MEISEL, PACE UNIVERSITY

A discussion of THE POWER OF DARKNESS with Maude Meisel from Pace University

PROFESSOR DANIEL GEROULD, CUNY GRADUATE CENTER

A discussion of 19th century Russian theater and THE POWER OF DARKNESS with distinguished professor Daniel Gerould from the CUNY Graduate Center.

Program

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