After Akhmatova

Written by:

Kate Cayley

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:


Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 3
  • Women: 3




20th Century
Soviet Union


90 min.

Year Written:



After Akhmatova is a play based on the life of dissident Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, and her relationship to her only son, Lev Gumilyov. The piece focuses on Akhmatova’s writing of her greatest work, the long poem Requiem, which was inspired by her son’s exile and long imprisonment as a dissident in Soviet labour camps in the 1930’s and 40’s. The poem and the events that caused it to be written are both seen through the eyes of an older and more pragmatic Lev, as he meets with his mother’s first American biographer in 1968, shortly after Akhmatova’s death. This man, a young academic named Alan Taylor, reverences Akhmatova’s life and work and sees the poem as a testament to resistance. Alan Taylor and his encounter with Lev is entirely fictitious, but the rest of the play is based on historical events. The play shifts between times, as Lev’s memories and Alan’s opinions collide.


Please note that while none of the characters explicitly fit the above identity markers, any of the parts could be played by people who do.

Lev Gumilyov, late 40’s and late teens to early 20’s (played by same performer)

Alan Taylor, late 20’s or early 30’s

Anna Akhmatova, early 40’s

Lydia Chukovskaya, late 20’s

Osip Mandelstam, early 40’s

Nadezhda Mandelstam, early 40’s

Officer, played by same performer as Lev

Daniel Brodsky, played by same performer as Alan

Interrogator 1, played by same performer as Alan

Interrogator 2, played by same performer as Lev

Woman, played by same performer as Nadezhda

First Produced:

First produced at Tarragon Theatre, 2011, directed by Alan Dilworth


After Akhmatova is available through the Canadian Play Outlet Website.

The play can also be accessed by emailing the playwright directly at Please note the playwright’s agent is for printed work only, so be sure to contact them directly for information.


“…Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, who composed her masterwork, Requiem between 1935 to 1940 — in the very teeth of the Stalinist reign of terror.

The poem remains well known throughout Russia as a loving and defiant tribute to Akhmatova’s son Lev, arrested as a dissident when he was a university student. But truth and reality, as Kate Cayley’s play After Akhmatova coolly reminds us, are not exactly the same thing.” – Review from The Toronto Star by Robert Crew, 2011