The Idiot — An Adaptation

The Idiot — An Adaptation

by Thomas F. Rogers

Translated and adapted from the Dostoyevsky novel.

(For production by Professional Groups, College/University Groups, Community Groups)

How would the world react if the Savior of the World again suddenly appeared in the guise of just another mortal? The profound Russian writer Dostoevsky inserts such a character in each of his four major novels—in CRIME AND PUNISHMENT the prostitute Sonya Marmeladovama, in THE POSSESSED (or THE DEVILS the false Messiah Stavroginm and in THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV the maligned but holy abbot Zosima and his righteous disciple Alesha. In all literature there are in fact very few memorable ‘Christ figures.’ Don Quixote may be one as well as another Russian author’s protagonist, Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago. In the opinion of this stage version’s adaptor, the hero of THE IDIOT, Myshkin, is the most complete and impressive of them all. Myshkin’s characterization and the novel itself are filled with irony. Like Christ, Myshkin is a prince (in Russian, a rank of noble, aristocratic heritage). However, his surname derives from the word for ‘mouse,‘ in turn suggesting his meekness and the lack of regard with which he is viewed by others. Despite his earnest, self-sacrificing efforts in their behalf, he fails to influence their lives for the better, as with the general default of many an ostensible Christian over time. Myshkin is viewed, instead, as odd and eccentric–an ‘idiot.‘ As with Alesha, his counterpart in THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, Myshkin’s only success is with children, who are uncorrupted and innocent. Set in nineteenth-century Russia’s high society milieu–both the novel and its stage version focus on Nastasya Filippovna, a beautiful woman, vied for by various men who would eitther make her their mistress or marry her for personal gain. The lone exception, Myshkin, is willing to rescue her and redeem her reputation by offering to marry her for totally selfless reasons. “Such beauty could save the world,” he declares when he first sees her portrait and recognizes her spiritual potential. Nastasya nevertheless refuses him, vengefully throwing herself into the arms of Myshkin’s destructive nemesis, Rogozhin, rather than accept the forgiveness that would also require her to forgive those who have so misused her. On an allegorical level, Myshkin’s and Rogozhin’s rivlary illustrates the contest between everyone’s superego and id over his or her very soul (anima)–hence the story’s universal psychological and spiritual import. At curtain, we view an ironic pieta: two men, both grief struck, sit on either side of the prostrate woman one of them has just slain, the other attempting to console him. As in his other memorable works, Dostoevsky’s THE IDIOT trains a rare spotlight on, besides the lust for money and various other human failings, the chauvinistic exploitation of women, to which, in the person of a lone character (Myshkin), is contrasted the empathy and altruism mandated by Christian ideals. Although Dostoevsky’s darkest novel, THE IDIOT also displays a deep vein of hilarious humor. Its tragicomedy is near operatic and great theatre. As the critic George Steiner once observed, Dostoevsky possessed “the most natural dramatic temperament since Shakespeare.

The script is also available in a Russian translation.


  • 7m 5W
  • About 2 hours.
  • Several Interior and Exterior settings.
  • ORDER #3067

Available for production by ALL producing groups.


  • The PERUSAL PAGES file is in PDF format and contains the first act of this two act play: IdiotPERUSAL
  • This and other plays by Thomas F. Rogers may be read in the new publication: The Plays of Thomas F. Rogers Volume 1 : Perestroika and Glasnost (the FIVE plays included are: Charades, Crime and Punishment, God’s Fools, The Idiot, and The Second Priest. You can purchase the five play volume HERE for $16.00 (saving $3.99 off the list price) and getting to read five of Tom Rogers’ plays about Russia before, during and after Communism. Introduction by Bob Nelson, Professor of Theatre at University of Utah.
  • Volume 2 of The Plays of Thomas F. Rogers : Personal Journeys, is also available containing SEVEN titles: Frére Lawrence, Gentle Barbarian, The Immortal, The Seagull, Siegfried Idyll, The Wager, and A Good Man Is Hard To Find (a short play), all dealing with personal struggles, choice, accountability and consequences. The entire Volume 2 is available HERE.Introduction by Tim Slover, Professor of Theatre at University of Utah.


  • EMAIL us for rights and information. Be sure to give us anticipated performance dates and the address of your group and, if different, your theatre. Please also include a contact name and phone number.


(Any PDF purchased will be emailed to your email address — if you need to provide that to us (not the one on your PayPal account?), email us. CDs will be mailed to a snail mail address. Do not purchase rehearsal materials or pay for royalties until you have performance clearance.)

  • Script in PDF format  — Order #3067a : $25.00 (from which you will be authorized to copy for your production. We have a version in English and a version in Russian)

  • First Performance Amateur/Educational Royalty — Order #3067d : $75

  • Second Performance Amateur/Educational Royalty — Order #3067e : $65

  • Professional Royalties will be quoted upon application
  • Contact us about the Russian translation


  • Coming Soon


The following is how the credits should read in all programs, posters, fliers, handbills and other promotional advertising for the show:

The Idiot

a translation and adaptation of the Fyodor M. Dostoevsky novel
Thomas F. Rogers

NOTE: The names of the Playwright(s), Composer, Lyricist, and Bookwriter shall be equal in size, type, coloring, boldness, and prominence. No billing shall appear in type larger or more prominent than the billing to the Authors except for the title of the play. (In a press release all type, will of course, be the same size.)


The Idiot is presented through special arrangement with Leicester Bay Theatricals.  All authorized materials are also supplied by LBT,”


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