The Fruits of Enlightenment


Writers: Leo Tolstoy


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Comedy, Satire
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
Moscow, Russia, 1890s
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Large Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes mature adult, young adult, adult, late teen, elderly characters


At the end of the nineteenth century, the landed Russian aristocracy is in decline. The wealthy are ignorant of the struggles of the poor, and the retired lieutenant Leoníd Fyódoritch Zvezdíntsef is no exception. While he is kind to his household, Leoníd is devoted to the new fad of spiritualism, using mediums and psychics to connect to the dead. In fact, Leoníd won’t make any decisions without consulting the spirits--a practice that becomes devastating to the village peasants who live next to his 60,000 acres of land. Three peasants come to his house, seeking to buy a few thousand acres so that they could farm for their village, and after a short seance, Leoníd denies their cash offer. To add insult, his wife Anna hysterically laments about the diseases that poor people could bring into their house.

But there is hope for these peasants--the maid Tanya has a plan to not only help the peasants get their land, but also arrange marriage to the man she loves (another servant who is also the son of one of the peasants). With a colorful cast of characters--including a professor of spiritualism, a rakish footman, and an independent-minded aristocratic daughter--The Fruits of Enlightenment is a witty comedy from the era of Russian Realism, a satirical critique of the waning aristocracy and their disconnect from the realities of everyday life. The Fruits of Enlightenment was one of the first plays ever directed by Constantin Stanislavski, and is a staple of contemporary Russian repertoire.

Lead Characters

The Fruits of Enlightenment guide sections