"Lenin's Embalmers"--Vern Tiessen's play opens in New York

March 1, 2010

Three Russians are in the gulag. The first one says, “What are you in for?”

The second one replies, “I called Zbarsky a revolutionary.”

“That’s funny,” the first one says. “I called Zbarsky a counterrevolutionary.”

“That’s funny,” the third one says. “I’m Zbarsky.”

Vern Thiessen’s new play, “Lenin’s Embalmers,” which starts on Wednesday at the Ensemble Studio Theater in Clinton, opens with the ghost of Lenin telling this joke as a parable of the mordant doom pervading the Communist state he created.

Read the rest of the article in The New York Times at:


Vern Tiessen's parents emigrated to Canada from the Ukraine shortly after WWII. Both of his grandfathers served time in the Gulag, and his parents grew up on collective farms. Tiessen, author of "Einstein's Gift," a previous play, now lives in Queens, New York. He found inspiration for his play in a novel by Ilya Zbarsky, son of Boris Zbasrky, both of whom served as director's of the Lenin Mausoleum.

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