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MANDELSTAM has won awards in the Toronto Fringe Festival’s New Play Writing Contest in 2007 and 2008.

The play is based on my book of prose poetry, Surviving the Censor—The Unspoken Words of Osip Mandelstam, which won the Stan and Helen Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for poetry in 2007, and was studied at the University of Toronto.

The play relates the story of Stalin’s persecution of Osip Mandelsthtam, one of the foremost Russian poets of the twentieth century. On May 13, 1934 Mandelshtam was arrested for creating and reciting a poem attacking Stalin. What made his act so noteworthy was that criticizing the regime at this time was unheard of. In order to avoid doing so, artists either fell silent or became state controlled puppets. Remarkably Mandelshtam isn’t shot but sentenced to three years in internal exile.

The Characters

  • Nadia Mandelshtam – Lead. Osip’s wife. She is resolute and stoic in the face of constant danger, and stands by her husband as he deteriorates both physically and mentally under Stalin’s relentless persecution. From the outset she is determined to see that his poetry survives.
  • Osip Mandelshtam – Lead. In internal exile he enters one of his most creative periods. Stalin has not forgotten the poet and will eventually break him, before having him rearrested and sentenced to hard labour in a work camp.
  • Anna Akhmatova – famous Russian poet and Osip’s close friend. Anna is brave and takes great risks for the Mandelshtam’s. She is very practical in her approach to helping save her friend.
  • Aleksandr – a satirist and friend of Mandelshtam’s. Throughout the play he pressures Osip to write an Ode to Stalin in order to save Nadia. It is uncertain where his loyalties lie— is he truly a friend or is he is an informer working for the authorities.

The Venue
MANDELSHTAM is a site-specific show. Performances will take place at the Anshei Minsk Synagogue, in Kensington Market, which boosts Byzantine Revival architecture and places MANDELSHTAM into its historical setting of Russia in the early 1930’s.


  • Sitting in for auditions
  • Rehearsals starting at the beginning of May for 8 weeks. Rehearsal schedule open to discussion.
  • Must be available for the tech.

Compensation: Honorarium and split of box office profit.

For more Information or to Apply: Send resume to:

Deadline for Submissions: April 6th

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