Princess Ivona (2011)

Witold Gombrovicz is a classic of Polish avant-garde, whose work made a lasting impact on European literature and drama of the 20th century. “Ivona, Princess of Burgundia” was written in 1938 and this date synchronizes with the time of birth of the fascism. The play was first staged in Poland in the early 50s. Gombrowicz’s work lives in time, revealing various problems connected with symbols that appear in people’s minds at different stages of social development. It is painful to admit that the mortification of national identity and the uprise of chauvinism in the 21st century coincide with the problems of the 1930s.The action proceeds in a dreamland, where the heroes are ordinary people landed up in extraordinary circumstances, in which immoral behaviour substitutes standards values. The stylistics of the play alters subtly, genres switch — intellectual drama turns into farce, satire bursts to melodrama, for the modern world is an absurd scrap yard of psychological stereotypes. In this respect the words of the Theatre of the Absurd leader Eva Ionesco about the people, “driving in circles of chaos, having nothing but fears and compunctions inside…and the sense of absolute emptiness of their lives” are essential with regard to the play.

Whoaretheseheroes? Martyrsorclowns? Are they playing tragedy of farce? The fool with words, meanings and lives, by adjusting victory and loss to equal, by transforming into symbolic figures in the world where clownery comes along with tragedy and mysticism is part of the reality.

Ivona is a mysterious character, an allegory that draws you to the mirror-world with her drift. She exists in terms of Christian myths of “blessed are the poor in spirit”, “so the last will be first” and “…become like children”. It would seem that Ivona’s Calvary is a random rhyme, but, as they say, there are no random rhymes.

Gombrovicz’s poetic manner resembles the drama of Evgeny Shwartz. His play is a parable that holds the elements of waspish satire, in which the fairy-tale characters merrily sink in the air of absurd.

Main Stage

Premiere was on 21 January 2011

Characters & Cast:

Ivona Maria Berdinskikh
Liza Arzamasova
King Ignatius Efim Shifrin
Leonid Gromov
Queen Margaret Marina Esipenko
Prince Philip Dmitry Solomykin
Alexander Soldatkin
Chamberlain Yury Shlykov
Isa Anna Antonova
Anastasia Vasilieva
Vasilisa Sukhanova
Friend of the Prince
Artur Ivanov
Friend of the Prince
Vasily Simonov
Valery Ushakov
Ivona’s aunts Nina Nehlopchenko
Agnessa Peterson
Eleonora Shashkova
Oleg Lopuhov
Vasily Simonov
Valery Ushakov
Eugeny Fedorov
Anatoliy Menshchikov


Director Vladimir Mirzoev
Ser design and costumes Alla Kozhenkova
Lighting designer Maya Shavdatuashvili
Music Faustas Latenas
Choreographer Artur Oshepkov