Anna Yablonskaya: Playwright acclaimed far beyond her native Ukraine for the acuity of her dramatic vision

In her short career, Anna Yablonskaya became one of the most accomplished post-Soviet playwrights and her plays attracted attention and stagings across Russia and abroad, winning many awards thanks to the acuity of her dramatic vision.

Her striking looks were crowned with a mane of Russian fairy-tale blonde hair.

She was born in Odessa in Ukraine, but she wrote in Russian and had her earliest successes there, at Teatr.doc, a small basement theatre founded by a group of experimental playwrights. At home it was a different matter: she wrote that Ukrainian literary managers "cross themselves at the mention of new writing" and described Odessa as a city dramatic in real life but theatrically dull. Nevertheless, she never abandoned it for Russia and was an active member of the Odessa-based South Russian Writers' Union. She also supported Vladimir Neklyayev, the imprisoned Belarusian writer and former presidential candidate.

Yablonskaya's father was a journalist and compiler of collections of Russian satire and humour. Yablonskaya started writing early: she had a play performed at her school, while her poetry was recited in assembly and started to be published when she was in her early teens. She also acted, joining the Tour-de-force company, which staged her play The Door. She drew on these experiences for her play Bermudskii kvadrat ("Bermuda Square"). It was there that she met her husband, though he was not an artist but the manager of a shipping company.

Before embarking on a full-time writing career she studied law in Odessa and worked in marketing, journalism and public relations. Her poetry appeared both in print and online journals including Prolog, October and Interpoeziya; her theatrical career was short but intense and in less than a decade she wrote around 20 plays.

The Eurasia Drama Competition in Ekaterinburg regularly presented her work, including Pismo v zoopark ("Letters to the Zoo", 2005), Kosmos ("Space", 2006), and Videokamera, ("Camcorder", 2008), whose graceful blank verse contrasts with the study of a man at odds with modern consumerist society. Elsewhere, the 15 miniature stories of Monodialogi ("Monodialogues", 2005) won prizes, and overseas her work was recognised in Utrecht and Wiesbaden.

Though she considered herself neither a feminist nor a controversialist, her chosen subject matters couldn't help but be both. Family Scenes charts the effects of a soldier's post-traumatic stress on his wife and son and the woman's lover. After one reading there was a discussion at which she was criticised for the "unfair" portrayal of the soldier, with the implication that showing how he was damaged by war was disrespectful.

Rather than dismissing this, Yablonskaya tried to engage with the criticism in a way that was typical of the humility that she never lost. Similarly, after a reading of her last play The Pagans, generally seen as her greatest, she went on stage to discuss what she saw as its shortcomings.

Russian writing sometimes tends to gloom to the point of hopelessness, but Yablonskaya, though her depiction of life could be severe and unsentimental, held fast to a compassionate outlook and the belief that things could turn out for the best. The critic Pavel Rudnev observed that, in her plays, somehow "the depressive, dehumanising world reverses itself, like a falling cat, and lands solidly on its feet." Her last blog entry, a poem, mused about attempts to find order in the world:

Book-keeping has drowned in chaos, grief,


The same signs always mean different things

Regularities are illusions. The rain falls


Soon there'll be a holiday. Holidays must be


Friends noted that she had, recently seemed sombre. Her blog entry of 21 December read: "It seems to me that I have very little time left." A month later she died in the terrorist explosion at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, having flown in to collect an award from the journal Iskusstvo Kino for a film adaptation of The Pagans. Her non-appearance was ascribed to travel problems and it was only when her husband's phone call was answered by a member of the security services that the truth became clear.

Last summer she spent a month at an international writers' workshop at London's Royal Court Theatre, where the director, Elyse Dodgson described her as "one of the most brilliant, promising writers we have ever worked with." In April the theatre will give a reading of The Pagans in the International Playwrights season.

Anna Grigoryevna Yablonskaya, playwright: born Odessa 20 July 1981; married Artem Mashutin (one daughter); died Moscow 24 January 2011.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little