About The Book
Taking its inspiration from historical fact, Collaborators explores the intense, paradoxical, and ultimately deadly connection between the dissident writer Mikhail Bulgakov and Josef Stalin, centering around a play that Bulgakov was forced to write to commemorate Stalin’s sixtieth birthday.
Stalin has been in power for sixteen years and his purges are underway. Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is lying unpublished in a desk drawer, and his latest play Molière has been banned following terrible reviews in Pravda. As a secret policeman dryly puts it, this has opened up a convenient “gap in his schedule.” This “gap” is to be filled by writing a play about Stalin’s life. The NKVD has even kindly found him an office in the notorious Lubyanka prison: a venue that would focus any writer’s mind. But as Bulgakov loses himself in a world of secrets, threats, and paradoxes, and begins to fall ill from the kidney disease that would eventually kill him, his feverish dreams of conversations with Stalin become reality in his mind, just as the state’s lies become truths in his play. Collaborators is a darkly comic portrait of the impossible choices facing any artist in a dictatorship, and a surreal journey into the imagination of a writer who loses himself in a macabre relationship with the omnipotent subject of his drama.
“[A] gripping, disturbing, and often blackly comic drama . . . [Collaborators] breaks the surly bonds of realism, which is perhaps the only way to tackle the monstrous cruelty and terror of Stalin’s regime . . . a truly tremendous double act which thrills, chills, and makes you laugh out loud—even though you know you shouldn’t.” —The Daily Telegraph
Winner of the 2012 Laurence Olivier Awards Best New Play