The Colony Theatre Company Website InfoSearchContactsLinkstShoppingDirectionsVolunteerJoin the TroupeAccoladesSubscribeActors and StaffHistoryTicketsThe TheatreNewsPast SeasonsCurrent SeasonHomeClickable Image
Season Info

The Suicide
Nikolai Erdman


Kathryn Fuller, Robert Budaska and RoZsa Horvath 


Director
Set Design
Lighting Design
Costume Design
Sound Design
Assistant Director
Dance Consultant and Property Master
Technical Directors
Stage Manager
Production Coordinators
Costume Assistant
Furniture by

Michael Fuller
Michael G. Wood
Jamie McAllister
Jeanne Harriott
Michael D. Wadler
Theresa Bailey
Todd Nielsen
Thomas Van Buren and Ron Morhous
Richard Lineback
Barbara Beckley and Carole Lineback
Jana Bonar
Hollywood Central Props of Glendale

CAST (in order of appearance):

Semyon Semyonovich Podsekalnikov 
(a man refused employment)
Maria Lukianovna
(his wife)
Serafima Ilinichna 
(his mother-in-law)
Mrs. Volodkin
Margarita Ivanovna Peryesvetova
Alexander Petrovich Kalabushkin
Aristarch Dominikovich Golashchapov
Cleopatra Maximovna ("Kiki")
Egor Timovyeyevich 
(a postman)
Nikifor Arsenyevich Pugachov 
(a butcher)
Viktor Viktorovich
(a writer)
Raissa Filipovna
Father Elpidi
Neighbor Woman
Boy
Zinka Padespan
Ivan Vasilyevich Peryesvetov
Oleg Leonidovich
Party Guests
 
 

Milliner
Wreath Bearer
Coffin Bearers

Deacon

 


Robert Budaska

RoZsa Horvath

Kathryn Fuller
Sandra Kinder
Barbara Beaman
Bob Ari
Jason Edwards
Carole Lineback

Gregory Way

Daniel Lench

J. Downing
Janet Reno
Don Woodruff
Jeanne Kiely
Adam Carl
Theresa Bailey
John Thomas Clark
David Springhorn
Dan Barrows
James Howard Davis
Sandra Kinder
Andrew Marzec
Jeanne Kiely
John Thomas Clark
Dan Barrows
James Howard Davis
Andrew Marzec

 

The Time: the late 1920's 
The Place: Russia

ACT I

The Podsekalnikov’s basement apartment

ACT II

Scene 1: an outdoor cafe
Scene 2: the Podsekalnikov apartment
Scene 3: a cemetery

 


 

Nikolia Erdman (playwright) was born in 1902 in Czarist Russia. He was only fifteen when the Bolsheviks took over, and not yet twenty when he began working in the theatre in political cabaret. In 1924 he collaborated on a comic revue Moscow from a Point of View, which opened the Moscow Theatre of Satire. His first play, The Mandate, was produced by Meyerhold in 1924. It was acceptable subject matter, as it satirized the has-beens of Soviet society, in particular the petty bourgeoisie and the admirers of Russian royalty. The Mandate was so successful that Meyerhold and Stanislavsky both competed for the right to produce Erdman's second play, The Suicide. Meyerhold won the contract and went into rehearsal. However, after a closed dress rehearsal before members of the Cultural Propaganda Department of the Central Committee, he was refused permission to open the play. Consequently, The Suicide has never had any public performance in the USSR, nor has it been published there. There are conflicting reports, but Erdman seems to have spent time in exile, possibly in Siberia. He subsequently wrote screenplays for several Soviet films, but never again wrote for the theatre, and died in obscurity in Moscow in 1970.

Nadezhda Mandelstamm was the wife of Opis Mandelstamm, a famous Russian poet who died in the Gulag (concentration-labor camp). The following excerpts are from her book, Hope Against Hope.

When you are repressed, and when they are after you, you hope to cheat your executioners, to run for it, to break away or be killed in the attempt — anything rather than to die in their hands. It is strange that all of us, whether mad or not, never quite give up this one hope: suicide is the last resort which we keep in reserve, believing that it is never too late to use it.

The thought of this last resort had consoled and soothed me all my life, and often, at times when things were quite unbearable, I had proposed to M. [her name for her husband] that we commit suicide together. M. always rejected the idea.

His main argument was, "How do you know what will come afterward? Life is a gift that nobody should renounce." And there was the final and telling argument, "Why do you think you ought to be happy?" Nobody was so full of the joy of life as M., but though he never sought unhappiness, neither did he count on being what is called "happy."

Generally, however, he dismissed the idea of suicide with a joke. "Kill ourselves? Impossible! What will Auerbach say?" Or, "How can I live with a professional suicide like you?" The thought of suicide came to him on the way to Cherdyn as a means of escaping the death by shooting he believed was inevitable. It was then that I said to him, "Very well, if they shoot us, we shan’t commit suicide." At this, already ill and obsessed as he was, he suddenly burst out laughing, "There you go again." From then on, our life was such that the suicide theme recurred frequently, but M. always said, "Wait...not now...we’ll see..."

I am always struck that people find it so difficult to cross this fateful threshold. There is something in the Christian injunction against suicide which is profoundly in keeping with human nature — this is why people don’t do it, even though life can be far more terrible than death, as we have seen in our times. When M. had gone, and I was left alone, I was sustained by the memory of his words, "Why do you think you ought to be happy?" and by the passion in the Life of the Archpriest Aurakum when his exhausted wife asked him, "How much further must we go?" and he replied, "Until the very grave, woman," whereupon she got to her feet and walked on.

...I wasn’t a professional suicide, as M. had called me teasingly. Many other people thought about it, too. Not for nothing was the best play in the Soviet repertory entitled, The Suicide.