News: Ensemble for the Romantic Century annouces two audio dramas by Anna Akhmatova starring Vanessa Redgrave

Ensemble for the Romantic Century is delighted to announce that British actress Vanessa Redgrave will play the role of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova in two audio dramas.

Akhmatova, The Heart is not made of Stone, from the play by Eve Wolf, ERC Artistic Director and Real Writing from the play by British playwright, Maureen Lawrence. These audio dramas are the first in a series aimed at keeping the ERC special brand combining classical music and theater before the public during the Covid shut down.

Akhmatova The Heart is not made of Stone spans the years 1945 to 1965 and centres around Anna’s meeting with British philosopher Isaiah Berlin in Leningrad in 1945. Berlin was part of the British delegation to the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Allies WW II defeat of Hitler. The play features Akhmatova’s incomparable poetry and the romantic drama between her and Berlin amidst the repressive Stalinist regime. Paul Hilton will play Isaiah Berlin. In 2020 Hilton won a Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his appearance in the Broadway run of The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez. Four other British actors will join Redgrave and Hilton with roles in Akhmatova, The Heart.., Charles Daish, Lucy Doyle and William Oxborrow as KGBVD operatives and Sebastian Knapp as Anna’s son, Lev. Historic recordings of the music of Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich chosen by Wolf as Music Director accompany the audio as well as documentary sound footage compiled by Renee Silverman.

Real Writing is a work about Akhmatova by British playwright Maureen Lawrence. Real Writing takes place from 1938-1992. It is about the relationship between the poet and Lydia Chukovskaya, a young Russian journalist and translator. In the play Lydia remembers her meetings with Anna as they tried to free their respective loved ones from imprisonment in Stalin’s gulag, Anna her son, Lev and Lydia her husband, Dmitri. Through the harrowing ordeal the two became lifelong friends. Lydia is played by Daisy Bevan. Eve Wolf is the Music Director and the production features music by Prokofiev and contemporary Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina.

Both Akhmatova, The Heart is not made of Stone and Real Writing are directed by Donald T. Sanders, ERC Director of Theatrical Production.

“It’s unbelievably exciting right now that Vanessa plays Anna Akhmatova, a woman and artist whom Vanessa admires so much.” saidSanders. “I always dreamed of Vanessa playing Anna on stage but the cards were never right. We did Akhmatova, The Heart is not made of Stone at NYC’s Thalia in 2012, at Brooklyn’s BAM in 2016, and were scheduled for reviving it at the Duke on 42nd Street last spring when Off Broadway shut down.”

Throughout the lockdown summer of 2020 ERC developed its concept of an audio drama series. When Redgrave accepted the role and her schedule cleared, Eve Wolf, Sanders and Renee Silverman (ERC Audio Drama Consultant) refined the script for audio, made further casting and production plans and went forward with award winning Allegra Productions UK. Recording took place during the first weeks of October 2020 at London’s Covid proofed Sonica Studios.

Post- production is under way at London’s Sound Room Studios with Wilfredo Acosta as sound engineer. The completed work is expected early in December 2020.

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