“Art should attend us everywhere that life flows and acts.” Vladimir Tatlin

Tatlin’s Tower by Evan Yionoulis and Thomas Cabaniss whisks the audience back to 1918 Moscow in the first months after the communist revolution and re-creates a time when avant-garde cabaret performers believed that theatre could transform society.

A collaboration between America’s Dickinson College, UEA School of Drama and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, this UK premiere and will be performed in front of the 10-metre scale model of the Vladimir Tatlin’s monument erected next to the Sainsbury Centre starting at 7:30pm on 17, 18, 19 May. Bring your own chairs or ground cover. Rain or Shine!


This is a cabaret-style piece centres around Vladimir Tatlin, one of the most important figures in the Soviet avant-garde art movement in the 1920s.  The piece focuses on a rehearsal of Mystery-Bouffe, a play by Vladimir Mayakovsky (also a character in the play), in preparation for a visit from Lenin’s wife. During the piece, Tatlin is designing and discussing the philosophical ideas behind his Monument to the Third International- commonly known as Tatlin’s Tower. The play is set to music and has songs that enhance the still timely debates on artistic freedom, the power of art to create change, and the role of the artist in society.  Tatlin became famous for the design of his Tower, even though it was never built.

Director Karen Lordi-Kirkham has been in Norwich for the past 2 years running Dickinson College’s Study Abroad Program for American students at UEA (unfortunately all now on-line). She arrived in Fall of 2019 and saw the Tower, and remembered this piece she had produced when she was a graduate student and Artistic Director of the Yale Summer Cabaret thirty years prior!  She had hoped to do the piece in the spring of 2020, but Covid put all theatre on hold. She was more determined than ever once re-opening was announced to make this project a reality before she returns to the USA in July.  She found UEA and Sainsbury were supportive and excited to finally be able to present public work again and especially on a piece that celebrates making theatre together and the power of art to transform!  She also reconnected with Yale classmate and collaborator Trui Malten, a designer who now lives in Cambridge.  The planets seem to be aligning to bring this UK premiere and 30th anniversary of the original production to life as a site-specific production at the actual tower replica.


About the artists:

Karen Lordi-Kirkham (director) has directed extensively in New York City and regionally. She graduated from Yale School of Drama with her Doctorate of Fine Arts. She is an Endowed Professor of Theatre at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. She most recently served as the Executive Artistic Director of Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake, NY.

Trui Malten (designer) is an international theater designer. She designed the lights for more than 140 productions of newly devised plays, classics, opera, musicals and dance. Trui has worked extensively abroad: in the USA, Italy, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Rumania and lately in Estonia. Originally from the Netherlands, she holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama where she studied lighting design with Jennifer Tipton. She now lives in Cambridge, England with her family.

Evan Yionoulis (playwright) is the Richard Rodgers Dean and Director of the Drama Division at the Juilliard School and an award-winning director who has helmed new plays and classics in New York and across the U.S.

Thomas Cabaniss (playwright/composer) writes for opera, theatre, dance, film and the concert stage. He teaches at the Julliard School and was Director of Education for the NY Philharmonic.

For further information or interviews please contact:

Your Name: Karen Lordi-Kirkham

Telephone Number: 07367354335

Email address: [email protected]

Listings Information: 

TATLIN’S TOWER by Evan Yionoulis and Thomas Cabaniss

Dates: May 17,18,19

Times: 7:30pm. Running time @1 hour.

Age guidance: All ages

Venue: Outside the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts.

UEA, Norfolk Road. NR4 7TJ

Tickets: Free. Spaces limited. Pre-booking essential to insure social distancing.

Stay tuned for info. Bring own chair/ground cover. Rain or Shine.

Box Office: store.uea.ac.uk