Director: Jan Ewing
[The list of actors comes from our early Zoom reading]
Ivan: Matthew Tiemstra
Captain Vlasek: Gabriele Angieri
Lieutenant Checkin: Patrick Hamilton
Empress Elizabeth Petrovna: Kristyn Koczur
Count Alexis Razumovsky: Steven Mark Singer
Press Relations: Channel i (Jay Michaels Arts & Entertainment)
Review: "Ewing handed us rich expansive dialogue that reads like a classic 19th century melodrama with ample supplies of sex and violence. This is not a condemnation as his choices were honest and completely necessary." — Alice Greenwald, PhD., Arts Independent
Check out the complete review on ARTS INDEPENDENT.
Ivan VI is a new play written in October, 2020 of the pandemic era in New York by Jan Ewing, accomplished author. The play is a brilliantly crafted work that explores the psychological existential dilemma of every human being. An historical drama, it far exceeds the specifics of the narrative. Every viewer may see a part of themselves in Ivan.
Synopsis: It’s 1764 and Tzar 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 Tzar. The grandson of Ivan V, Peter the Great’s older brother, he was crowned, annointed at the age of two-months, removed by his cousin, the future Empress Elizabeth Petrovna 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)?
This play contains scenes of violence, including sexual violence. It is NOT recommended for young or vulnerable viewers.
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Ivan as a Universal Metaphor
William J. Cataldi • Pup’s Books
I’d been Jan Ewing’s intimate protégé for twenty-six years before he wrote Ivan VI in the Fall of 2020. When I read the finished piece, I clearly sensed what it was. But it took another six to eight months for me to be able to explain my thoughts cogently. The work is a significant accomplishment both by the standard measures of plays in our era, and because of the universal metaphor that it invokes.
I won’t do the busy work of explaining how Ivan VI is a good play. Everyone has found it compelling. And that’s the only thing a play has to be, to be good—compelling. Jan Ewing is a conservative playwright, who had directed theater extensively, and knows how to tell a story. I’m hoping Jan gets his stage production. People think it’s worthy, and maybe Ivan VI will float around somewhere in the American psyche for a couple decades.
Is it, however, worthy of note in the human psyche fifty years from now, or five hundred years from now? Ivan VI encapsulates a universal metaphor of such psychological magnitude that I would argue, yes, it does indeed fall into that category. Ivan is a boy, literally born into kingship. Because of the political machinations of his moment, (things that take place in an adult world so far removed from him, that he isn’t even aware of it); he is deposed, and ultimately thrown into prison. He has lived in solitary confinement for twenty-four years, when the play opens.
We are all kings when we are born. Everyone dotes on us, we are fed with a silver spoon, our butts are wiped, our diapers cleaned up, we are almost constantly entertained. All we have to do is cry, and folks come running. Otherwise, we lie there idle, gurgling. Life goes on like this for months. We grow and start walking, we learn to play. Then, one day, we encounter other children. They have minds of their own. They don’t exist just to wipe our butts. Then, one of the other children points a finger at us and says, “You suck.” We have been deposed—in that moment.
What happens next? Ultimately, the baby Tzar gets whisked away to Riga and then, prison. But what is that a metaphor for? Every human being grows up with unique circumstances. Some children have prosperous, safe, warm environments to grow up in, and they continue to live in another castle and don’t have to go to prison. But they never go back to kingship. A frightening lot of people get shoved in prison. They have to tuck the child they were at first, king of the world, loved, doted on, way down in the dark recesses of their unconscious mind. The child lives in a prison of their own mind. What they show the world of themselves are masks. They develop various personalities with which to interact with strangers, the folks in their world, even their loved ones. They engage, they interface, and all that to protect that frightened child in the dungeon of their psyche.
Ivan is the secret king in everyman. He is innocent, vulnerable, threatened. But he also contains our first vitality. He is the closest thing to the heart of our soul. He is the frightened little child we all carry around inside. The psychology profession studies and ministers to an entire psychic apparatus of personality that ultimately exists to protect our imprisoned “true” self. Ivan VI poses the question: Will the individual be able to restore that vital source to its rightful place on the throne of one’s soul, or will it be extinguished?
Too many Ivan’s are stomped out, murdered by our own guards, in too many souls in our own country and the whole world. Ivan VI serves as an allegory of the process of life for vast seas of humanity, whose innocent connection to the ultimate life-source becomes severed by circumstance. Jan Ewing calls us all to be alert to the crisis of modern life. His observation, so deftly stated, ensures that this play should be on the human radar permanently. It concerns everyone, in any time.
For investment opportunties and updates, including a link to the Zoom version produced last year, contact us at janewing@PupsBooks.com.