Ivan VI, is a blockbuster play written during the pandemic era in New York, 2020 by Jan Ewing, accomplished author. Blockbuster because of how far its depth exceeds any specifics of the narrative. Every perspective finds a meaning.
Synopsis: It’s 1764 and Tsar Ivan VI is twenty-four years old. He’s been living alone in a prison cell for twenty years, seeing no one but the two guards who have been ordered to kill him if anyone should try to set him free. Many in Russia consider him to be the legitimate Tsar. The grandson of Ivan V, Peter the Great’s older brother, he was crowned, annointed and deified at the age of two-months, removed by his cousin, the future Elizabeth II, at fifteen months and thrown into prison. Many attempts to free him have taken place, but none have so far succeeded. Is he merely the uneducated simpleton he appears to be, or is it possible he might return to the throne one day and replace Catherine II (the Great)?
Tsar Ivan VI Antonovich Ulrich Wolfenbuttel of Russia, son of Prince Antony Ulrich of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Grand Duchess Anna Leopoldovna (the daughter of Ivan V), was crowned at the age of two-months, deposed at fifteen months, and thrown into prison where he was kept in solitary confinement until he was murdered at twenty-four by his prison guards.
During his short lifetime, Ivan VI was a constant source of anxiety for Elizabeth II (who removed him from his throne) and Catherine II (the Great) who succeeded Elizabeth after the murder of her own husband, Peter III. Ivan had been crowned, anointed and deified, and many Russians considered him to be the legitimate Tsar. By any standards of sanity, he was the legitimate Tsar. He was male, a direct descendent of Ivan V, the brother and co-Tsar of Peter the Great, and had been recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church.
But then, as now, it seems that sanity and power are always in conflict. Thus, this little boy, who grew up alone in a prison cell with guards ordered to kill him if anyone attempted to set him free, became a political tool, so important that, in spite of the sometimes herculean efforts to restore him, he lived his entire life bereft of education, comfort, friendship, or even a modicum of affection. It is in his memory, and in memory of all such children who are abandoned and alone, that this play has been written.
The complete manuscript is available below. Please note, it is watermarked. When it is downloaded and opened in ACROBAT, it displays without that.