A Gulag Mouse

5w, 1m
Full length


Anastasia - A young war bride. Beautiful and refined.

Masha - Confident, intimidating, brash.

Svetlana - Older than the others, jaded, inured to the suffering around her.

Lubov - Exploitation has left her outwardly hard, inwardly vulnerable.

Prushka - Her nickname is "mouse", which fits perfectly.

Evgeny - The brutal and charming husband of Anastasia.(Double cast with Ivanov).

Ivanov - The teenage son of Anastasia. Maybe only a dream.


A Siberian gulag in 1949


When privileged Anastasia is sent to a Siberian gulag for the murder of her abusive husband, her arrival destroys the intricate web of hierarchy, alliance and treachery among the other four inmates of her bunkhouse. To save herself, Anastasia must save all of them: the prostitute, the killer, the lifer... and Prushka - the mouse.

About A Gulag Mouse

A full length drama in two acts for 5w, 1m

A Gulag Mouse at Sacred Fools Theatre Company
(L to R) Kimberly Atkinson Sims, Crystal Keith, Emily Goss, Dana DeRuyck in the Sacred Fools Theatre production, Los Angeles 2016. Directed by Danielle Ozymandias. Photo by Jessica Sherman.

The play takes place in a Siberian Gulag, where the arrival of a new inmate upsets the hierarchies and alliances between her fellows. It's a tense drama for five women, mostly set inside the bunkhouse. A man playing dual roles (abusive husband, and a grown son) appears in the opening and closing scenes.

Toss Pot Theatre Company
The 2013 production in Valdez at The Last Frontier Theatre Conference by Toss Pot Productions.
(L to R) Annia Wyndham, Tamar Shai, Danielle Rabinovitch and Morgan Mitchell. Directed by Arlitia Jones. Photo by Jamie Lang.

A Gulag Mouse won the 2009/2010 Joining Sword and Pen competition, Seattle's Off-Broadway Playwrights competition and was a finalist for the 2010 inaugural Woodward/Newman Drama Award. It premiered at the Trap Door Theatre in Chicago, 2010 by the Babes With Blades Theatre Company, and was revived at the Erickson Theatre in Seattle; in Anchorage and Valdez by Toss Pot Productions, in London at the Dugdale Center, and in Los Angeles by Sacred Fools Theater Company. 2017 saw a production at the University of Northern Iowa.
The Warehouse Theatre, a student-governed theatre company working in cooperation with the Performing Arts Department of Stephens College produced the play in November of 2017.

Stephens College
L to R: Hope Lee as Masha, Mackenna Morrow as Prushka and Hope Pena as Lubov
Director and Set Designer: Adrienne Lee, Costume Designer: Suzanne Cornelison,
Lighting Designer: Winona Wiley, Photo by Katie Orr.

Movie version on Amazon Prime!

Where We Disappear, the movie based on A Gulag Mouse, had its world premiere in June of 2019 as part of the Dances with Films Festival at the Grauman Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, and is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Dances With Films Festival

Sample Dialogue...

A Gulag Mouse

Toss Pot Theatre Company
The 2013 production in Anchorage by TossPot Productions at the Out North Contemporary Art House


Arts in LA writes: "Jolly writes startling, evocative dialogue and creates richly carved characters"
review by Travis Michael Holder.

The World Through Night Tinted Glasses posts: "this play surprised me throughout... frankly a truly extraordinary set of words strung together."
review by David MacDowell Blue.

Anchorage Daily News says "Jolly is not without his successes, but he remains a novice name in the world of theater. Ruhl has spent much of the last ten years acclaimed as a major talent and up-and-coming genius. But seeing these two shows back to back, "A Gulag Mouse" is the one that approaches genius, the one that has a chance of outliving its author."
review by Mike Dunham.

Anchorage Press says A Gulag Mouse is "uncomfortable to watch, but terribly compelling." Read the review by Colleen Bailey.

★ ★ ★ Chicago Theater says A Gulag Mouse is "densely packed with dark suspense, non-stop tension, well-timed action scenes, and black humor precisely placed and played for all its grim power... The playwriting shows real quality. It's still a dark, noir-ish thriller, but it's a thriller with a brain, showing historical and cultural sophistication." Read the review by Paige Listerud.

CenterStage recommends A Gulag Mouse as a Must See Show!...Like an exquisitely placed punch to the kidneys, this Siberian women's prison drama will leave you gasping. Read the review by Rory Leahy.

A Gulag Mouse - London Production    A Gulag Mouse, image courtesy of Grumpy Monkey Design A Gulag Mouse - Anchorage Production    A Gulag Mouse - Seattle Production    A Gulag Mouse - Los Angeles Production    A Gulag Mouse - University of Northern Iowa Production A Gulag Mouse - Stephens College/Warehouse Theatre

For information on producing this play, please contact Next Stage Press, and if you'd like to get a feel for it - try reading the monologue available here.