Drama. By LeeAnne Hill Adams
Cast: 5m., 5w. (No limit to the number of actors who make up the ensemble.) Archipelago explores the world of Stalin's so-called Gulag Archipelago through the experiences of a small collection of prisoners—most based on actual Gulag victims. Among them is an unlikely troupe of actors who struggle to put on a production of The Inspector General in Far Eastern Siberia in 1937. Through an ensemble of actors who play a wide variety of characters, the play looks broadly at the origins of the Gulag, life in the camps and the role of the arts as a coping strategy for Gulag victims. It examines the use of comedy, specifically satire, as a means of emotional release and empowerment. The play lurches wildly in tone, moving from drama to satire, thereby keeping the world of the play unstable. Based almost entirely on experiences recounted by Gulag survivors, Archipelago honors the memories of artists and others who suffered and died in Stalin's concentration camps. Multiple simple sets. Approximate running time: 2 hours.