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Encyclopedia > Variations on the Death of Trotsky

Variations on the Death of Trotsky is a short one act comedy written by David Ives. David Ives (b. ...


The play depicts the death of Leon Trotsky in varying ways. The play is divided into eight scenes or "variations," which depict the last day of Trotsky's life. True to its title, the play calls for Trotsky to die at the end of each scene, and then continues on from near where the last scene left off, usually progressing the story a bit further each time. Since the play takes place on the day of Trotsky's death (one day after the attack) Trotsky is depicted with a mountain climber's axe sticking out of his skull. Though this is apparent to the audience from the very beginning, Trotsky himself does not realize that the axe is there until his wife, known only as Mrs. Trotsky, comes in with an encyclopedia from the future which tells of Trotsky's demise. The third and final character is introduced near the end of the play; Ramon Mercader, the Spanish assassin who smashed the axe into Trotsky's skull.   (Russian: Лeв Давидович Трóцкий, Lev Davidovich Trotsky, also transliterated Leo, Lyev, Trotskii, Trotski, Trotskij, Trockij and Trotzky) (November 7 [O.S. October 26] 1879 – August 21, 1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronstein (), was a Ukrainian-born Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist. ... Jaime Ramón Mercader del Río Hernández (February 7, 1914 - October 18, 1978) was a Spanish Communist who served as an foreign agent of the NKVD during Joseph Stalins time as ruler of the USSR. In that role, he became famous as the murderer of Stalins...

Original Production

Variations on the Death of Trotsky was presented as part of All in the Timing by David Ives, at Primary Stages (Casey Childs, artistic director) in New York City, in December, 1993. It was directed by Jason McConnell Buzas and stage managed by Christine Catti. The set design was by Bruce Goodrich; the costume design was by Sharon Lynch; the lighting design was by Deborah Constantine. The cast was as follows: All in the Timing was originally a book of six one act plays by David Ives dating from 1987 to 1993. ... Look up December in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ...

  • Daniel Hagen as Trotsky
  • Nancy Opel as Mrs. Trotsky
  • Ted Neustadt as Ramon

However, Variations on the Death of Trotsky had originally premiered at the Manhattan Punch Line Theatre (Steve Kaplan, artistic director), in New York City. It was directed as well by Jason McConell Buzas, and stage managed by Kathryn Maloney. The set design was by Vaughn Patterson; the costume design was by Sharon Lynch; the lighting design was by Patt Dignan. The cast was as follows:

  • Daniel Hagen as Trotsky
  • Nora Mae Lyng as Mrs. Trotsky
  • Steven Rodriguez as Ramon

At later Punch Line performances, the part of Mrs. Trotsky was played by Alison Martin.

See also



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