A stirring drama about Anna Akhmatova who is remembered as

perhaps the greatest Russian lyric poet of the twentieth century. Her life and work is inextricably linked to the great northern metropolis of Saint Petersburg...the stern dark city of many waters.

After the brilliant success of her first books of poetry, Akhmatova was forcibly silenced, condemned as a 'half-nun, half-harlot'. In 1921 the poet Nikolai Gumilev, her former husband and father of her only child, was arrested and executed on the false charge of counter-revolutionary conspiracy. Their son Lev was arrested three times and spent many years in prison. All this unfolded against the background of two World Wars, the Great Terror, the Leningrad Blockade and evacuation to Central Asia.

'The Ships Pass Quietly' is a tense drama about a great artist who will not be silenced.

'Let the prison doves coo in the distance
As the ships pass quietly on the Neva...'

'A beautifully realised account of a fascinating woman for whom poetry was sustenance throughout her hard life... an elegant tribute to both Akhmatova and poets as truthtellers.'
Victoria Laurie, The Australian, 20 July 2006

  • naturalistic drama
  • 90
  • 4 total
  • 2 female identifying, 2 male identifying
  • culturally and linguistically diverse
  • 18+
  • adult
  • Australian Script Centre


You can preview the full online text with a Membership


Female | Unspecified | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 27

EXTRACT: I often wonder what they write in their reports: " The old poetess woman who lives in the House on the Fontanka has somehow acquired a new pair of stockings." I'm amazed they can find the time when half this city is on starvation rations. You'll take off if you don't stop all that flapping Lydia. (PAUSE) Still, I suppose it means they haven't forgotten me completely. It makes me feel some perverted minds at least...I must still be a woman of some importance.

Search for details of past productions at

AusStage provides an accessible research facility for investigating live performance in Australia.

Search by play title and/or playwright name
Results will open in a new window

PLEASE NOTE: You will be directed to for search results; Australian Plays Transform is not responsible for their completeness. Refer to our terms of use.

SKU: ASC-960 Category:

We acknowledge that we live and create on unceded lands. We pay our respects to the First Peoples of Australia, and to their elders past, present and future.

© Australian Plays Transform 2024