Best Scene from DEATH SURPRISES THE EXECUTIONER Stage Play by E. Thomalen

Watch the August 2016 Winning Stage Play Reading. 



Genre: History, Drama, War

The play opens and closes with scenes from the gulag where two prisoners discuss the relationship of leaders to followers. The central story of the play is about the rise and unexpected fall of Lavrenti P. Beria, the Soviet Minister of the Interior and State Security as well as master of the gulag system.


NARRATOR – Holly Sarchfield
VASILY – Kris Hagen
ALEXI – Geoff Mays

Get to know the winning writer: 

1. What is your stage play about?

Death Surprises the Executioner takes place in the former Soviet Union during the purges of the 1930’s to the death of Stalin in 1953. It is a play that examines the relationship of leaders to the people in revolutionary times such as we now see in the Middle East and North Africa. It opens with an allegorical story told to a fellow inmate by a petty former aristocrat and teacher, now in a gulag, that frames the events that follow.

2. Why should this play be produced?

Revolutionary societies are always with us and we have a poor understanding of them. Such societies end up under the leadership of the Robespierres and Stalins and the people who carry out their orders.

3. How would you describe this play in two words?

Terrifyingly enlightening

4. What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Doctor Zhivago, On the Beach

5. How long have you been working on this play?

10 years, but also all my life

6. How many stories have you written?


7. What motivated you to write this play?

Though the topic has long been on my mind and was a major theme of the 20th century, it became focused upon again as we watched the revolutions unfold in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. As Hegel has said what we learn about history is that nobody learns anything from history.

8. What obstacles did you face to finish this play?

My struggles with the play was to pull together a lot of material and to be aa true to that material as I could be. The risk was to include too much and lose control of the narrative.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love the theater because of the freedom it gives the audience to imagine and reflect. I also love poetry, ballet, classical music and art.

10. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Never give up, listen to yourself.


Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

By WILDsound Festival

Submitters reactions to their feedback on their stories. New testimonials coming each month! Watch this month's winning readings. At least 15 performances a month: Submit your script, story, poem, or film to the festival today:

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