About the Story

ROSSIYA-MATUSHKA: MOTHER RUSSIA recounts the story of Empress Catherine II, the longest reigning – and last—female leader in Russian history and a ruler who built her country into a world power.

Born in 1729 as the minor German princess Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst, Catherine gained a new name, title and homeland when she married her second cousin, Peter III, heir to the Russian throne. Disappointed in her husband’s intellect and abilities and resentful of being pushed to the sidelines, Catherine staged a coup and overthrew her hapless spouse, becoming sole ruler of the immense country.

Although denounced by both contemporaries and historians for her dictatorial monarchy, Catherine the Great proved an enlightened ruler who did much to bring her adopted country into modern times. While she is often remembered today merely for keeping sequential lovers, the play shows that Catherine’s story is much fuller and more fascinating than most people realize.