Ivan Fuller's haunting, romantic tragedy based on the life and writings of Soviet poet Olga Berggolts.
By
Anne Sears
02/19/2012

Olga Berggolts

Rider University will present the play Awake in Me February 29 through March 4 in the Spitz Studio Theater on the Rider University campus in Lawrenceville, N.J.  Previews are Wednesday, February 29 and Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m.  Performances are Friday, March 2 at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m.

Picture a post-war, still fragile Leningrad, mid-1970s – three decades after one of the most deadly and destructive sieges of World War II.  Enter a less-than-objective newsman, a passionate (and dead) poet and a sister who wants to bury the past.

Written in 2009 by Ivan Fuller, associate dean of Rider’s School of Fine & Performing Arts and chair of the Theatre and Dance department and director of this production, Awake in Me is part of Fuller’s “Siege Cycle,” a collection of plays inspired by the nearly 900-day-long Nazi siege of Leningrad during WWII. Fuller developed the series while working as playwright-in-residence for Summer Literary Seminars in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Awake in Me follows a Russian journalist, Dmitri, as he visits the poet’s sister, Maria, in 1975 with the goal of writing a story about the recently deceased Olga. Not the typical, objective newsman on assignment, Dmitri has a passionate connection to the poet who was once called the Madonna of Leningrad. Once he wins the trust of Maria, the two begin a journey of memory and revelation that takes them back to the start of Olga’s work as a poet, wife, mother, prisoner, radio personality, hero of Leningrad during the WWII siege and, ultimately, a figure of great tragedy.

In March 2009, Augustana College presented the first installment of Fuller’s “Siege Cycle,” Eating into the Fabric, a work that received the Best New Play award from the Great Plains Theatre Conference in 2009.

Tickets for the February 29 and March 1 performances are $9 and available only at the door.  Tickets for other performances are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.  Rider University students with valid ID may purchase tickets for all performances for $5. 

To order tickets call 609-896-5303 or email ticketbooth@rider.edu.  The Spitz Studio Theater is located in the Fine Arts Building of Rider University at 2083 Lawrenceville Road in Lawrenceville, NJ.