The Master and Margarita to illuminate the stage

Theatre@York’s new adaptation of The Master and Margarita by Russian playwright Mikhail Bulgakov comes to life under the skilful direction of Cristiana Ripeanu, from Jan. 23 to 29 in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre at York’s Keele campus.

A satire of life under Stalin in the 1930s, The Master and Margarita is about a writer who is imprisoned by Soviet authorities for penning a subversive novel. Separated from his secret lover – a beautiful woman trapped in a dull marriage – his hopes of being reunited with her diminish until a shadowy figure appears on the scene to shake up the oppressive state of affairs.

Written during Stalin’s regime, Bulgakov’s provocative novel of the Russian Revolution was considered so dangerous that the first complete version of the book wasn’t published until 1973.

Ripeanu, a graduate student in York University’s theatre program in the Faculty of Fine Arts, adapted the play in collaboration with her classmate, actor/director David Deveau. Their new version is based on the Russian adaptation by Veniamin Smekhov, translated by Alexander and Catherine Woronzoff-Dashkoff.

Right: Russian playwright Mikhail Bulgakov in 1926 

Theatre@York’s take on Bulgakov’s allegorical novel embraces all of the original story’s elements of romance, art, religion, humour and history to reflect social values of past and present. The play is an ideal vehicle for a large cast of talented young actors eager to show what they can do.

Ripeanu, originally from Romania, graduated from the stage directing program at the National University of Theatre and Cinematography I.L.Caragiale in Bucharest. She has directed in professional theatres in Romania, where several of her shows received awards and nominations. She has also participated in a number of international theatre festivals.

Since her arrival in Canada three years ago, Ripeanu has directed for Theatre & Company and Neruda Productions in Kitchener, as well as Theatre Cambridge. She enrolled at York University to find her voice as a director in a “new world” and is currently completing an MFA. The Master and Margarita is her thesis project.

Theatre@York’s production of The Master & Margarita showcases the talents of the undergraduate theatre students in York University’s Department of Theatre. The production is designed and constructed by the department’s undergraduate students, with set design by Ruthann Drummond, lighting design by Andrew Thuss and costume design by Lina Marques.

The Master & Margarita previews Sunday, Jan. 23, and Monday, Jan. 24; opens Tuesday, Jan. 25; and runs through Saturday, Jan. 29, in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre at the Keele campus. Showtime is 7:30pm, with matinees at 1pm on Wednesday, Jan. 26, and Friday, Jan. 28.

Admission is $12, $8 for students and seniors and $5 group rate. The Sunday preview is pay-what-you-can. Monday preview $5. To reserve tickets, call the box office at 416-736-5172, ext. 3.