The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women

by  Carolyn Gage

Full Length Play, Drama  /  9f

"Elegantly conceived...A feminist Noises Off." - Washington City Press

"Powerful." -San Diego Lesbian Press
"Farce, social history, debate play, agitprop, audience participation melodrama, satire [that] makes …

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The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women

by  Carolyn Gage

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The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women

  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre


    Experimental, Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades


    National Finalist, Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, Association for Theatre in Higher Education
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

A play with intense audience participation! Engrossing, controversial courtroom drama, where the audience must serve as judge and jury, deciding motions and verdict, in a case against the five women who betrayed the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, the last surviving daughter of the Tsar of Russia. Complex ethical questions on a set of folding chairs.

The Anastasia Trials is a farcical, but profoundly engaging excursion into the hidden world of ethics for women who are both survivors and perpetrators of abuse toward women. The format is a play-within-a-play, where a radical feminist theatre company comes together in order to perform a courtroom drama. The play is shaped by the audience decisions to overrule or sustain the attorneys’ motions, and every night’s audience sees a different play.

In presenting the play, the Emma Goldman Theatre Brigade has instituted a new system to insure equal opportunity for the actors: a lottery. As the women assemble to draw their roles from the hat for the evening’s performance, sisterhood is put to the test. The performance itself is a conspiracy trial against five women accused of denying a woman her identity. The plaintiff is none other than Anastasia Romanov, sole survivor of the massacre of the Russian imperial family in 1918.

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"Elegantly conceived...A feminist Noises Off." - Washington City Press

"Powerful." -San Diego Lesbian Press

"Farce, social history, debate play, agitprop, audience participation melodrama, satire [that] makes the head reel!" -San Diego Union Tribune

"Wild... It's lively and moves quickly... Very funny yet poignant." -Washington Blade

“Carolyn Gage’s raucous, multilayered script explores issues of empathy, loyalty, and betrayal among women...” --The Washington Post.

“Verdict: An unexpected delight… ” --Miami Herald, FL.

“… farcical humor, imaginative plot twists, and just pure theatrical fun...” --South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale.

“… fascinating and complex play…”--Fresno

“I am constantly amazed at Carolyn’s ability to make complex social issues not only accessible but also irresistibly fascinating… the play… [The Anastasia Trials ] touched us, made us laugh and gripped us in a white-knuckle intensity usually found only in Hitchcock films.” --R.J. McComish, Literary Manager of the Portland Stage Company, Portland, Maine.

“… fabulously interesting, brilliantly thought-provoking and exquisitely funny… masterpiece of feminist theater...” --off our backs, Washington, DC.

"Each performance could potentially have a different result and many students saw every performance just so they could see how the show ended."--At Oldfields, Glencoe, MD.


Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $90 per performance



  • Time Period: Contemporary, 1910s / WWI
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting:

    The stage set for a courtroom trial. The present. Basically, bare stage with folding chairs.

  • Additional Features: Audience Participation/Interactive
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes



BETTY - a butch stagehand, plays the Bailiff.
DIANE - the founder and director of the Emma Goldman Theater Brigade, plays the Prosecuting Attorney.
ATHENA - the daughter of a rich man, plays the Defense Attorney and also Annie Jennings, a wealthy socialite.
JENNY - an actor with stomach flu, plays Anastasia Romanov, and also the Prosecuting Attorney.
MELISSA - an actor bent on impressing the critics, plays Thea Malinowsky, a nurse from a public mental asylum.
MARIE - a grassroots, radical activist, plays Clara Peuthart, an alcoholic bag lady.
AMY - an actor with professional aspirations, plays Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, former lady-in-waiting to Anastasia's mother.
DONNA - an actor who resents Diane's authority, plays Shura Tegleva, Anastasia's former nursemaid.
LISA - the playwright, plays Baroness Zinaida Tolstoy, a former friend of Anastasia's mother and Anastasia.

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Cast Attributes

  • Role(s) for Asian Actor(s)
  • Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
  • Role(s) for Latino Actor(s)
  • All Female
  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Multicultural casting
  • Parts for Senior Actors



Carolyn Gage

Carolyn Gage is a playwright, performer, director, and activist. The author of nine books on lesbian theatre and seventy-five plays, musicals, and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history. Sh ...

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The play was premiered at Cauldron & Labrys Productions, Portland, Maine in 2002.

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