Olivia Olsen’s Stray Dogs,the story of one of the most extraordinary women of the 20th century, premieres at London’s Park Theatre next month.
Anna Akhmatova, the most celebrated poet of her generation, has lost her first husband to the purges and her son to state prison, where he awaits execution.
Now, Stalin, the tyrant responsible for the murder of everyone close to her, wants a favour…
Plunged so far into obscurity she is believed to be dead, Anna is offered a renewal of life when the Russian/British philosopher Isaiah Berlin risks the hazards behind the iron curtain to find her.
But in a world where poetry is a force that can control and move masses for good or ill, which side of the curtain will her loyalty lead her? How far will she go to save a life? How far will she go to save herself?
Anna must choose between her duty to her son, her country, her art and herself.
This urgent and relevant play, which is based on true events, explores the nature of tyranny and how it affects both the political landscape of the past and the present.
Directed by Robin Herford Stray Dogs stars Olivia Olsen as Anna Akhmatova; Ben Porter as Isaiah Berlin and Ian Redford playing Joseph Stalin.
Olivia Olsen said: “Stray Dogs is a homage to Anna Akhmatova, a poet laureate living during Stalin’s great purges, an homage to all voices that have been and are gagged.
“Poetry is beyond politics, beyond advertising, entertainment and beyond information, necessary and dangerous.
“Stalin knew this. He knew literature was a weapon and needed Akhmatova’s fame and genius to ﬁll a void.
“I wrote the play to ﬁnd out how Akhmatova, whose poetry was born in the Stray Dog Cabaret in St. Petersburg, answered”.
Stray Dogs runs in Park90 from November 13 – December 7.