Subject to Fits: A Response to Dostoevski's 'The Idiot'

by  Robert Montgomery

Full Length Play, Drama  /  6m, 3f

"Absolutely thrilling – a soul trip, an adventure of the heart and mind. A joy to encounter, a play to cherish." - The New York Times

"Wonderfully comic, fascinating and full of intelligence. The songs erupt from characters who look like they’ll perish if they contain their feelings one second longer." - The Village Voice

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Subject to Fits: A Response to Dostoevski's 'The Idiot'

by  Robert Montgomery

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Subject to Fits: A Response to Dostoevski's 'The Idiot'

  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    6m, 3f
  • Duration

    Duration

    105 Minutes
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Adaptations (Literature), Experimental
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    Not Applicable
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Appropriate for all audiences
    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

Robert Montgomery calls his Subject To Fits not an adaptation but "a response to Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, smacking of The Idiot, dreaming of The Idiot, but mostly taking off from where The Idiot drove it."

Prince Myshkin, a pure soul just released from an epilepsy clinic, is thrown into the mad whirl of St. Petersburg society. His child-like honesty steals the hearts of two competing women: the aristocratic Aglaya, and the decadent Natasha; and wins the dark friendships of the men: a murderer, a consumptive, an alcoholic, a hopeless mediocrity and a toady. But his innocence flails against their fitful intensity. He suffers two seizures of ecstatic vision followed by nightmare lows. After the first, he realizes, "An enormous upsurge of happiness has completely dispirited me." After the second, try as he might, he can't take in any more and retreats to catatonia.

The whole play, it turns out, is his catatonic consciousness trying to fit these events together through music and shards of memory.

This is a music theater work with much dark comedy. The music is basic, in a Brecht-Weill musical style, written for actors who can carry a tune.  

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Reviews

"Absolutely thrilling – a soul trip, an adventure of the heart and mind. A joy to encounter, a play to cherish." - The New York Times

"Wonderfully comic, fascinating and full of intelligence. The songs erupt from characters who look like they’ll perish if they contain their feelings one second longer." - The Village Voice

"Astonishing dialogue, remarkable music, beautifully logical. It moves on the tide of that rarest of energies – inspiration. Young American theater at its best. " - Time Magazine

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Senior Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes
  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance
  • Mandatory Music/Media Fee: $15 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: Not Applicable, 19th Century
  • Duration: 105 Minutes
  • Setting: Though the source material is 19th century, it's not necessary to set it in this period. The language is not time specific, so it can be done in any time period, according to director and designer's choice. The set should accompany shifting locales. Usually some sort of staircase is needed for the fit at the end of Act I.
  • Additional Features: Play w/ Music, Special Effects
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Elaborate / High Volume Costumes, Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: Easy
  • Chorus Size: No Chorus

Casting

6m, 3f
MYSHKIN - a child-like epileptic.
ROGOZHIN - a wealthy dissipate.
LEBEDEV - a money-grubbing toady.
NATASHA - a wild high-society woman.
MME. YEPANCHIN - maternal; good-hearted.
AGLAYA YEPANCHIN - her daughter, pretty and volatile.
GANYA IVOGLIN - a mediocre social climber.
IPPOLIT IVOGLIN - an extremely sensitive consumptive.
GENERAL IVOGLIN - a very alcoholic storyteller.
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Cast Attributes

  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Parts for Senior Actors

Casting Notes

Basic "Singing for actors" involved.

Resources

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package

four part orchestration:

Piano/Vocal

Organ

Cello

Bass


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Authors

Robert Montgomery

Robert Montgomery is a writer and composer whose work has been produced in New York City (Public Theater, La MaMa, Soho Rep, among others), and in theaters across America (including the Alley Theater and the premier Spoleto Festival in South Carolina) and abroad (including the Royal Shakespeare Company ...

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Premiered at the Pubic Theater (New York Shakespeare Festival) 1971.

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