The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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International Theatre Project “The Light that Shines in the Darkness”


Stiftung Schloss Neuhardenberg GmbH (Germany)

Leo Tolstoy Museum-estate Yasnaya Polyana (Russia)                              

Duration: 2 years (January 2008 – December 2009)

Performances in Germany: August 14-16, 20-23, 2009

Performances in Russia: September 9-12, 2009   

“The Light that Shines in the Darkness” was the first joint project of the Yasnaya Polyana museum and the German foundation Schloss Neuhardenberg with its large experience of open-air theatrical performances. The joint efforts of the project partners were aimed to create and show to the public a bright and interesting performance, based on one of Leo Tolstoy’s last works – “The Light that Shines in the Darkness.” This play, which is autobiographical in many respects, reflects the last months of Tolstoy’s life at Yasnaya Polyana. 


The play was staged by the world-famous director Volker Schlöndorff, winner of the Golden Palm of the Cannes Film Festival (1979) and Oscar (1980). The two key roles – those of the main characters whose prototypes were in fact Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sophia – were given to the stars of German theatre and cinema: Hans-Michael Rehberg (who played in the famous Schindler’s List) and Angela Winkler –  Schlöndorff’s muse who was engaged in a number of his films. 

The project was financed by the EU-grant of 300,000 euros and later was also sponsored by Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe and Volkswagen.

The premiere of the play in Neuhardenberg took place on August 14, 2009. After several performances there, in early September it was shown at Yasnaya Polyana. The Russian premiere took place on Leo Tolstoy’s birthday – September 9. To show the play, a kind of open-air theater with 400 seats was specially constructed at Yasnaya Polyana. An advertising campaign was launched both in Tula and in Moscow. Although it was not supposed to be a commercial event, tickets for three of the four performances were sold out.


Among the guests invited for the premiere on September 9 were outstanding Russian and foreign politicians, cultural and artistic figures, representatives of embassies of EU countries, and leading mass media.  Many of the spectators came from Moscow; transfer from and back to Moscow was organized for them, and was included in the ticket price. 

The play aroused great interest and numerous comments in the press. The success of the project contributed to the image of Yasnaya Polyana as an international cultural center that is ready to take part in other similar projects.

See the web-site of the project:


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