Fourteen Little Red Huts by Andrei Platanov

October 18th to November 18th, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 5:00pm. 

14 Little Red Huts, a dramatic look at Soviet policy in the early 20th century that led to the deaths of nearly 15 million people, will be performed by the Medicine Show Theatre from October 18 through November 18. Ioan Ardelean, a Romanian actor and professor who grew up under the old regime, directs.

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Written by Andrei Platanov

Translated by Robert Chandler

Directed by Ioan Ardelean

AMERICAN DEBUT! 

CAST

Danielle Aziza • Bill Blechingberg • Steve Capra • Zulivet Diaz • David Elyha • Felix Gardon • Amanda J. Ifrah • Poorna Sidney

PRESS RELEASE

14 Little Red Huts, a dramatic look at Soviet policy in the early 20th century that led to the deaths of nearly 15 million people, will be performed by the Medicine Show Theatre from October 18 through November 18. Ioan Ardelean, a Romanian actor and professor who grew up under the old regime, directs.
The story examines the human toll of Stalin’s treatment of the peasantry after the Bolshevik Revolution. The misguided policy of “collectivization” forced individual peasant households into communal farms called “kolkhozes” during the late 1920s and early 1930s. By the 1930s it was clear the government’s attempt to feed a growing industrial-worker class was failing. The policies set farming quotas far too high, did not account for poor or average crop yields, and prohibited peasants from saving some of their crops for their own use. Relatively wealthy peasants who owned livestock or smaller plots of land were declared enemies of the state and killed or exiled to Siberia. The result was famine.
“This play is less concerned with the details of bureaucratic snafu than with what happens to people when bureaucracy promulgates ridiculous laws and you have to obey them,” said Medicine Show actor-manager Chris Brandt. He noted a particularly cruel irony in the fact many peasants had been enthusiastic revolutionaries. “The play is not a political analysis of the mistakes of Stalinism. Rather, it’s about what happens to the people given those mistakes.”
The folly seems obvious to us today, but this production raises the question: how much has changed? As any sales team working in corporate America today can attest, shortfalls occur when quotas become unmoored from reality. In the case of a growing Russia, those food shortfalls led to humanitarian crises and a death toll equivalent to the current populations of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined.
Noted Russian novelist Andrei Platonov wrote this play in horror after being dispatched by Moscow to the collectives to write propaganda pieces extolling the success of the happy farmers. Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago) was another such writer and was so appalled by what he saw that he couldn’t write for a decade after. 
Submitting the play to the Soviet censor’s office, however, would have meant death or exile for its author. Consequently the piece was not seen for decades, until the fall of communism. It took almost another 30 years, until now, to make it to the United States.
On this 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, be among the first in this country to see this important work. Decide for yourself if we have learned at least some lessons from one of history’s most tragic chapters.

We are also proud to have some of the top voices in Russian studies and literature joining us to lead post-performance conversations on this remarkable piece of archival theater.

These discussions will focus on big-picture issues, such as genocide. How does it begin? How did it happen in a country where the people had just overthrown the Czar? Propaganda, another issue we’ll explore, while certainly not exclusive to the Soviet Union, was no doubt the hallmark of early 20th century Russia. The propaganda machine was nothing short of remarkable in its far-reaching and powerful thrall over the people of the Soviet Union.
 
The distinguished group of experts joining the conversation includes:
Dr. Olga Meerson of Georgetown UniversityNovember 2nd and 3rd
Edwin Frank, Editor, Classics, New York Review of BooksNovember 8th
Dr. Kevin M.F. Platt of the University of PennsylvaniaNovember 10th
Dr. Bradley Gorski of Barnard and Columbia UniversityNovember 15th
Dr. Yakov Klots of Hunter CollegeNovember 17th