BEHIND THE SCENES
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Madame Ranevsky and her daughter, Anya, return home from Paris to find that their family estate is about to be sold at auction for debt. To all the family it is quite unthinkable that they should lose the wonderful cherry orchard whose white blooms are part of their childhood memories. Madame Ranevsky is an irresponsible soul who cannot be made to realize the value of money. Her brother, Gaev, is quite as hopeless where money is concerned. Varya, the step-daughter, is the only practical one, but how can a woman raise money? While presented with options to save the estate, the family essentially does nothing and the play ends with the estate being sold to the son of a former serf, and the family leaving to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down.
Recommended for high school and adult audiences.
The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre in January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play. Since the first production at the Moscow Art Theatre, this play has been translated into many languages and produced around the world, becoming a classic work of dramatic literature.
A 1934 production at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London directed by Tyrone Guthrie and translated by Hubert Butler was among the first English-language productions of the play. A production directed by Peter Hall, translated by Michael Frayn (Noises Off) and starring Dorothy Tutin as Ranevskaya, Albert Finney as Lopakhin, Ben Kingsley as Trofimov and Ralph Richardson as Firs, appeared at the Royal National Theatre in London in 1978 to nearly universal acclaim.
In 1981, renowned director Peter Brook mounted a production in French with an international cast. The production was remounted at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1988 after tours through Africa and the Middle East. A film version starring Charlotte Rampling as Ranevskaya, Alan Bates, Owen Teale as Lophakin, Melanie Lynskey as Dunyasha and Gerard Butler as Yasha, directed by Michael Cacoyannis, appeared in 1999. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company performed a version that was translated by Associate Artistic Director Curt Columbus and directed by ensemble member Tina Landau. The Atlantic Theatre Company in 2005 mounted a new adaptation of The Cherry Orchard by the acclaimed Tom Donaghy, where much more of the comedy was present as the playwright had originally intended.
A new production of the play starring Annette Bening as Ranevskaya and Alfred Molina as Lophakin, translated by Martin Sherman (Bent) and directed by Sean Mathias (Indiscretions) opened at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in February 2006. Libby Appel adapted and directed the play in 2007 for her farewell season as artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The new translation, based on an original literal translation by Allison Horsley, is considered to be "strongly Americanized." In 2009, a new version of the play by Tom Stoppard was performed as the first production of The Bridge Project, a partnership between North American and U.K. theaters. A new translation of the play in Punjabi was performed in September 2009 by the students of Theatre Art Department of Punjabi University, Patiala, India.A version of the play in Afrikaans was performed in late September 2009 by students of the Department of Drama at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov ( January 29, 1860 – July 15, 1904) was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Chekhov practiced as a doctor throughout most of his literary career.
The third of six surviving children, Chekhov was born in Taganrog, a port on the Sea of Azov in southern Russia where his father, Pavel Yegorovich Chekhov, the son of a former serf, ran a grocery store. A director of the parish choir, devout Orthodox Christian, and physically abusive father, Pavel Chekhov has been seen by some historians as the model for his son's many portraits of hypocrisy. Chekhov's mother, Yevgeniya, was an excellent storyteller who entertained the children with tales of her travels with her cloth-merchant father all over Russia.
In 1876, Chekhov's father was declared bankrupt after over-extending his finances building a new house,and to avoid the debtor's prison fled to Moscow, where his two eldest sons, Alexander and Nikolai, were attending university. The family lived in poverty in Moscow, Chekhov's mother physically and emotionally broken. Chekhov was left behind to sell the family possessions and finish his education. In 1884, Chekhov qualified as a physician, which he considered his principal profession though he made little money from it and treated the poor for free. In 1884 and 1885, Chekhov found himself coughing blood, and in 1886 the attacks worsened; but he would not admit tuberculosis to his family and friends,
Chekhov renounced the theatre after the disastrous reception of The Seagull in 1896; but the play was revived to acclaim in 1898 by Constantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre, which subsequently also produced Uncle Vanya and premiered Chekhov’s last two plays, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. These four works present a challenge to the acting ensemble as well as to audiences, because in place of conventional action Chekhov offers a "theatre of mood" and a "submerged life in the text."
Chekhov had at first written stories only for the money, but as his artistic ambition grew, he made formal innovations which have influenced the evolution of the modern short story. His originality consists in an early use of the stream-of-consciousness technique, later adopted by James Joyce and other modernists, combined with a disavowal of the moral finality of traditional story structure. He made no apologies for the difficulties this posed to readers, insisting that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them.
COMMENTS FROM ANTON CHEKHOV
"Every sentence I write strikes me as good for nothing."
"Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress."
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Rosalie & Ed Tank