World Premiere of LENIN'S EMBALMERS Plays The Ensemble Studio Theatre, 3/3-3/28
The Ensemble Studio Theatre will present a world premiere dark comedy based on a true story, LENIN'S EMBALMERS, by Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen and directed by William Carden. LENIN'S EMBALMERS, part of the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project, begins previews March 3 for an opening March 8 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street.
Inspired by the book "Lenin's Embalmers" by Ilya Zbarsky and Samuel Hutchinson, translated by Barbara Bray (Harvill Press, 1999), LENIN'S EMBALMERS spins the tale of Boris Zbarsky and Vladimir Vorobiov, two scientists who were chosen by The Committee for Immortalization to embalm Vladimir Lenin after his death in 1924.
The embalming of the leader of the World Proletariat - which took almost four months - was a scientific "miracle" at the time and was hailed by scientists around the world. A miracle indeed because the work began two months after Lenin's death. Lenin's embalmers developed a process which restored the body to a lifelike appearance and is still used for preventive maintenance today. Yet, as so many had during the Great Terror, Lenin's embalmers reached levels of power and influence that ultimately led to their death by a paranoid Stalinist regime.
Cast in LENIN'S EMBALMERS are Steven Boyer, Zach Grenier, Richmond Hoxie, Polly Lee, Peter Maloney, James Murtaugh, Scott Sowers and Michael Louis Wells.
"Vern Thiessen may have created an absurdist, dark comedy from a true story, but the truth is that the Soviet Union was an absurdist, dark place during that time," said William Carden, Ensemble Studio Theatre's artistic director and director of LENIN'S EMBALMERS. "Russia was controlled by a clique that created a false reality led by a man who thought nothing of ordering the death of millions."
Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award, Canada's highest honour for playwriting, Vern Thiessen is one of Canada's most produced playwrights. He has written for stage, radio and television. His stage plays have been seen across Canada, the US and Europe, including SHAKESPEARE'S WILL, APPLE, EINSTEIN'S GIFT, BLOWFISH, THE RESURRECTION OF JOHN FRUM, and VIMY.
Mr. Thiessen is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Outstanding New Play, The City of Edmonton Arts Achievement Award, the University of Alberta Alumni Award for Excellence, and The Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competitio. He has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.
William Carden has been the Artistic Director of the Ensemble Studio Theatre since 2007. Prior to that, he was the Artistic Director of the HB Playwrights Foundation and Theatre from 1994 to 2006. As an actor and a director he has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country and in Canada. At the Ensemble Studio Theatre, he has directed LUCY by Damien Atkins and PTSD by Tommy Smith. His past directing credits include MRS. KLEIN and COLLECTED STORIES with Uta Hagen, THE HABITATION OF DRAGONS by Horton Foote, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF at the Stratford Festival in Canada and James Ryan's THE YOUNG GIRL AND THE MONSOON at Playwrights Horizons.
Sets are by Mikiko Suzuki Macdams, lights by Chris Dallos, sound by Shane Rettig and costumes by Suzanne Chesney.
Tickets are $30, $20 (previews), $15 tickets for students/senior, and may be ordered at www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org or 866-811-4111. Performances are generally Wednesday through Saturday and Monday evenings at 7:00pm with matinees Saturdays at 2:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm except Sunday, March 7, when the matinee is 5:00pm. LENIN'S EMBALMERS opens Monday, March 8, at 7:00pm for a run through March 28.