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

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 [email protected].  The Spitz Studio Theater is located in the Fine Arts Building of Rider University at 2083 Lawrenceville Road in Lawrenceville, NJ.