by Carolyn Gage
presented by Rescued from the Mess
Described as “a feminist Noises Off,” The Anastasia Trials is a play with intense audience participation. Engrossing, controversial courtroom drama, where the audience must serve as judge and jury, deciding motions and verdict, in a case against the five women who betrayed the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, the last surviving daughter of the Tsar of Russia. Complex ethical questions on a set of folding chairs.
The Anastasia Trials is a farcical but profoundly engaging excursion into the hidden world of ethics for women who are both survivors and perpetrators of abuse toward women. The format is a play-within-a-play, where a radical feminist theatre company comes together in order to perform a courtroom drama. The play is shaped by the audience decisions to overrule or sustain the attorneys’ motions, and every night’s audience sees a different play.
In presenting the play, the Emma Goldman Theatre Brigade has instituted a new system to insure equal opportunity for the actors: a lottery. As the women assemble to draw their roles from the hat for the evening’s performance, sisterhood is put to the test. The performance itself is a conspiracy trial against five women accused of denying a woman her identity. The plaintiff is none other than Anastasia Romanov, sole survivor of the massacre of the Russian imperial family in 1918.
The production is directed by Marti Dixon, and produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. Rescued from the Mess is a theater collaborative whose mission is to carve out a niche for bold and unabashed theater in our area.