The Last Letter, a new play translated by Robert Chandler and adapted and directed by internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, is based on chapter 17 of Russian novelist Vasily Grossman's classic 1950's novel, Life and Fate. The production stars Kathleen Chalfant.
Set in 1941 in the Ukraine, this is the story of Anna Semionovna, a doctor, who is writing what she knows will be her last letter. The Nazis have overtaken Anna's village. Writing to her son who is safe, Anna bears witness to what is happening to her and to her community as she faces genocide. Anna is unsentimental, ironic and never surrenders to despair. In defeat, she is entirely undefeated. Grossman's novel has been called "the most complete portrait of Stalinist Russia we have." The play, highly acclaimed in Paris and in a brief North American tour, was presented by La Comedie-Francaise in French in 2001 starring leading French actress Catherine Samie.