IVAN VI by Jan Ewing


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 and 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)?



IVAN VI was crowned Tsar of Russia, anointed and deified at two-months of age, dethroned at fifteen months, and imprisoned by ELIZABETH II at the age of four. He remained alone in prison until he was murdered by his prison guards as the result of a standing order that he be eliminated if anyone tried to set him free. As the play begins, IVAN is twenty- four, tall and thin, with hair to his waist. His clothes are torn and dirty.

ELIZABETH II, Peter the Great’s eldest daughter, exists only as a SHADE in Ivan’s mind. She is appropriately magnificent, but tattered and ragged since she “lives” with IVAN in his cell and his memories of grandeur have deteriorated. She should be costumed in gray. She was thirty-two when he last saw her (he was eighteen months old), and has been dead for two years when the play begins. She speaks using the Royal We. At this point, Catherine II (the Great) is in power.

COUNT ALEXIS RAZUMOVSKY was ELIZABETH’s favorite when she took IVAN’s throne, thus he also “lives” as a SHADE in the boy’s cell. He is also a degraded version of what he actually was, likely in his late twenties when Ivan last saw him. Also costumed in gray.

CAPTAIN DANILO VLASEV is the guard in charge of the nameless boy known only as Prisoner No. 1. In his early forties, he is an army professional, forbidden to leave the prison as long as IVAN is alive. In every respect, he and CHEKIN (see below) are also imprisoned. Thus, IVAN is being guarded by two men authorized to kill him under certain circumstances and whose primary goal is to be free of him so they can resume living normal lives.

LIEUTENANT LUKA CHEKIN, VLASEV’s subordinate, roughly IVAN’s age. Only he, VLASEV, and the prison Commandant know who IVAN is, although there are persistent rumors throughout the prison opining that Prisoner #1 is Ivanushka, the Baby Tsar



Approximately 105 minutes



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