2008 -- chekhov.us Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
Chekhov : 4 Farces

I had in mind this book when I directed the show. I still didn't get to this project since 2005! Perhaps, "mini-chekhov" is not one, but two, or even more books -- one act plays, bilingual [ru-en] edition, my lectures on Chekhov for drama classes [dramatic literature and playscript analysis], Russian/English testimonials about Anton Chekhov...

I do not know if I will have time for "Project CHEKHOV" after I retire [2009]. My nonfiction projects come first.

There is a lot of notes on Chekhov in directing and acting classes I taught. Especially, in method.vtheatre.net!

Plans? I fear them.

"Deadlines" make me tremble.

ant, anatolant, anatoly.org

... images?

anatolant Web-Theatre : director2007

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Later, later...

12.2.08 -- Chekhov in Africa:

mini-chekhov (farces) at Lul Theatre

First season with En/Amh (bilingual performances)

SHE/HE and Old Man [ Bear & Proposal ]

Directorial Concept [Ethio adaptation?]

First, in English.

With the Russian Cultural Center

[Participation in Chekhov's Festival in Moscow? 2010-2011?]

... and

"3 Sisters" [ moved to Ethiopia circa 1974 ]





chekhov.vtheatre.net > cyllics * chekhov pages index
Chekhov.05: Last Summer I began thinking seriously about "mini-chekhov" (one hundred years since his death). I use his farces in classes, but I wanted to do them against his own life, against his death. I knew the letters (especially from Olga, his wife), I thought I simply could place them between the comedies...

I have to write a play "Goodbye," working title...

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Chekhov - Love Letters
Theory of Spectatorship
THR331 Fundamental of Directing 2005 * Wedding: class project -- finals *

Chekhov bio *

Script Analysis Directory & DramLit

Linksleft frame

Featured Pages: See Online Plays listing!

... Chekhov & Beckett

SHOWS: 12th Night
2008 -- Stoppard


chekhov pages @ vtheatre


one act fest *

* Acting I : BioMethod

* Acting II : Biomechanics

* Acting III : Method

** Stage Directions : Stagematrix

** Film Directing : Filmmaking for Actors

** Playscript Analysis : Grammar of Drama


The Dramatist's Toolkit

Solving Your Script

Art Of Dramatic Writing

Chekhov.05: from Bear (Love at First Sight) to Marriage Proposal to Wedding to Tobacco (33 years of marriage)!

Chekhov reads some stage directions (Epic Theatre)... and dies.

Recollections in Russian

Anton Chekhov's Life and Thought: Selected Letters and Commentary by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Michael Henry Heim, Simon Karlinsky

Reading Chekhov : A Critical Journey 0375761063

Anton Chekhov: A Life
A noted scholar of the art of Anton Chekhov now turns to his life (1860-1904), with equally revelatory results. Rayfield's densely documented account avoids general statements in favor of quiet accumulation of detail that gradually creates a multifaceted impression of Chekhov's contradictions. Witty, charming, and an ardent lover of women, Russia's greatest dramatist was also coolly detached, capable of capriciousness and considerable cruelty. In Anton Chekhov, Rayfield does not attempt to tidy up a messily complex psyche or to downplay the faults that were as intrinsic to Chekhov's genius as were his merits.

Chekhov's Plays : An Opening into Eternity
In a highly impressive if occasionally meandering series of essays, Yale drama professor Gilman (The Making of Modern Drama) presents an extended look at the dramatic methods employed by Chekhov in each of his plays. Often drawing on Chekhov's letters and fiction, Gilman argues against both the Soviet school of criticism, which perceived Chekhov as writing political drama about the sterility of middle-class lives, and also against those critics who saw his plays as plotless excercises in Naturalism. Instead Gilman argues that Chekhov was a theatrical revolutionary, a deliberately anti-dramatic writer in whose plays events that don't happen are often more important than those that do, and whose disjointed and often digressive dialogue allowed him to write in a musical and allusive rather than mechanical and melodramatic way. Gilman sees in Chekhov a precursor of Samuel Beckett, although Chekhov's objectivity and emotional restraint kept his plays more balanced and less despairing than Beckett's. The case Gilman makes for his subject's formal radicalism and literary stature is convincing as well as free from academic cant. Though he has a tendency to ramble, Gilman's encyclopedic knowledge of all things Chekhovian makes for interesting digressions, and this work should be eagerly received not only by admirers of Chekhov but by serious devotees of the theater. [Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.]

The Portable Chekhov (Viking Portable Library) 640 pages Publisher: Penguin Books (August 1, 1977) ISBN: 0140150358

"Chekov wrote about 6 good stories. But he was an amateur writer." — Ernest Hemingway

"Chekhov! Chekhov! Chekhov!" — Tennessee William, asked to name his favorite authors.

"Art tells the truth," Chekhov says; according to Tolstoy, art tells the truth because it "expresses the highest feelings of man." These may well be two statements of the same thing, but whether they are or not, what do they mean? How do we apply them? A group of people from all over the world, all of whom describe themselves as artists and therefore may be, converge in Paris to chop apart an automobile and spread wet spaghetti on a woman who has taken all her clothes off. Is it true? What is the nature of the lofty feeling? Is this alleged happening less true, the feeling less lofty, than what we get out of the nearly impenetrable odes of Pindar, the comic quotation of the William Tell Overture in Shostakovich's Symphony No 15, the stern Christianity of Njal's Saga or Gulliver's Travels, or the godless terror of John Hawkes' The Beetleleg? — John Gardner, On Moral Fiction (Harper, pp 150-51)

For another thing, thanks partly to certain movements in modern philosophy, the art of fiction, like all the arts, has become increasingly self-conscious and self-doubting, artists repeatedly asking themselves what it is they're doing. Chekhov and Tolstoy could say with great confidence that the business of fiction was "to tell the truth." Contemporary thought, as we've seen, is often skeptical about whether telling the truth is possible. ... Telling the truth in fiction can mean one of three things: saying that which is factually correct, a trivial kind of truth, though a kind central to works of verisimilitude; saying that which, by virtue of tone and coherence, does not feel like lying, a more important kind of truth; and discovering and affirming moral truth about human existence — the highest truth of art. — John Gardner, The Art of Fiction (Vintage, p 129)

In great fiction we are moved by what happens, not by the whimpering or bawling of the writer's presentation of what happens. That is, in great fiction, we are moved by characters and events, not by the emotion of the person who happens to be telling the story. Sometimes, as in the fiction of Tolstoy or Chekhov — and one might mention many others — the narrative voice is deliberately kept calm and dispassionate, so that the emotion arising from the fictional events comes through almost wholly untinged by presentation; but restraint of that kind is not an aesthetic necessity. A flamboyant style like that of Faulkner at his best can be equally successful. The trick is simple that the style must work in the service of the material, not in advertisement of the writer. — John Gardner, The Art of Fiction (Vintage, p 116)

Anton Chekhov gave some advice about revising a story: first, he said, throw out the first three pages. As a young writer I figured that if anybody knew about short stories, it was Chekhov, so I tried taking his advice. I really hoped he was wrong, but of course he was right. It depends on the length of the story, naturally; if it's very short, you can only throw out the first three praragraphs. But there are few first drafts to which Chekhov's Razor doesn't apply. Starting a story, we all tend to circle around, explain a lot of stuff, set things up that don't need to be set up. Then we find our way and get going, and the story begins ... very often just about on page 3. — Ursula LeGuin

"Yes sir. You can be more careless, you can put more trash in [a novel] and be excused for it. In a short story that’s next to the poem, almost every word has got to be almost exactly right. In the novel you can be careless but in the short story you can’t. I mean by that the good short stories like Chekhov wrote. That’s why I rate that second — it’s because it demands a nearer absolute exactitude. You have less room to be slovenly and careless. There’s less room in it for trash." — William Faulkner

The "short story" is a highly elastic term, after all. Poe's remarks are inappropriate to our time, and in fact to the marvelous modern tradition of the story that begins with Chekhov, Joyce, Conrad, and James. — Joyce Carol Oates, Studies in Short Fiction, XVIII (1981), 240.

I remember an old teacher quoting Chekhov to us: "Help us walk into someone else's mind. ... Look how you live, my friend." It's what I try to get my students to see. Don't judge your characters. You may want to set them up for your readers to judge, but don't savage them and don't make them look stupid, because what you're trying to do is understand what it feels like to be in their heads. Sometimes students don't want to hear that because it blunts their cleverness. It's easier to stand outside; more fun, too. — Rosellen Brown, Conversations on Writing Fiction (Harper, pp 53-4)

"Your story, like these other two, is essentially the presenting of a pathetic situation, and when you present a pathetic situation, you have to let it speak entirely for itself. I mean you have to present it and leave it alone. You have to let the things in the story do the talking. ... Chekhov makes everything work — the air, the light, the cold, the dirt, etc Show these things and you don't have to say them." — Flannery O'Connor, The Habit of Being (Farrar, Straus, pp 83-4)

"Well, for one thing he didn't do anything called workshops! As a matter of fact, the students never saw each other's stories, nor did he discuss our stories in class. What we talked about in class was Chekhov, Chekhov's stories. I read Chekhov's stories until I was blue in the face." — Stanley Elkin on Randall Jarrell as teacher, Conversations on Writing Fiction (Harper, p 91)

"And we were captivated by the craft of writing and fascinated by all the ways people had done it. We were always reading things, figuring out how Chekhov had written this sex scene without any nuts and bolts in it, and yet it's so wonderful — the one called "The Lady with the Dog." It's the way people really are when they're having an affair; it's those two people and their reactions. That's the kind of things we talked about. How it's done." — Gail Godwin on her time at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Conversations on Writing Fiction (Harper, p 131)

"Now, being irrelevant — or apparently irrelevant — for the moment is something that has its uses in fiction. Chekhov, for example, used that device exceptionally well for comedy, suspense, or for other effects. But irrelevancy cannot be piled on irrelevancy. Something must be proceeding in the scene, some addition to the pattern must be developing." — Robey MaCauley and George Lanning, Technique in Fiction, (Harper, p 142)

"Here’s what I think the basic problem we all face is: We did not become writers to be Jacqueline Susann. We became writers, in my case, because of Somerset Maugham, because of Chekov, because of all those guys. You’re not as good as they are. So your whole fucking life you’re faced with the failure of your own inadequacies." — William Goldman interview for Writers Guild of America

"There is never a time when I’m not reading or rereading a story or play by Chekhov." — Cristina Garcia


Farces : stage level (Chekhov' story = death is above) -- the vulgar --

my Shrew archives

my Shrew archives

my Shrew archives

my Shrew archives

On the centenary of Anton Chekhov's death, Rosamund Bartlett, author of Chekhov: Scenes From a Life, explains why the work of a Russian writer who died a century ago continues to resonate so strongly with us today [Thursday July 15, 2004]

Thanks to the discovery of the unpublished memoir of an eyewitness, Julian Evans can tell the full story of the great writer's final moments... *

"He awoke in the early hours of the night," she (Olga) wrote, "and for the first time in his life himself requested that the doctor be sent for." She asked a Russian student who was staying in the hotel to run for Dr Schwoerer. "The doctor arrived and ordered champagne. Anton Pavlovich sat up and loudly informed the doctor in German (he spoke very little German): `Ich sterbe [I'm dying]…'

"He then took a glass, turned his face towards me, smiled his amazing smile and said: `It's a long time since I drank champagne…', calmly drained his glass, lay down quietly on his left side, and shortly afterwards fell silent forever."

[ He was a self-made liberal in the first period of Russian liberalisation. Where and how to establish it? ]

"... Olga asked the brothers to drop in on her husband, who was "very homesick for Russia and for the company of his fellow countrymen". Olga apparently told Leo that Chekhov's health was improving. When he went to call on the writer, he wrote, "I was struck by the discrepancy between this seeming improvement - for he had a very good colour and was very sunburnt - and the impression he gave at the same time of general exhaustion." Chekhov coughed frequently and spat into a small spittoon which he carried in the pocket of his jacket.

Leo often visited Chekhov. He found him optimistic about his health and making plans to return to Russia, but rapidly his restlessness began to show. On June 29, he was writing to his sister Masha: "I just can't get used to German silence and calm… I've got a tremendous longing to go to Italy." Then, unexpectedly, a heatwave struck southern Europe - the worst weather for a man suffering from advanced tuberculosis. On July 12, Chekhov had the first of two heart attacks but still appeared to rally, then on the evening of July 14 events began to move rapidly.

Chekhov's last hours
(Filed: 04/07/2004)

Thanks to the discovery of the unpublished memoir of an eyewitness, Julian Evans can tell the full story of the great writer's final moments

What did Chekhov die of? That much we know: tuberculosis contracted as early as his teens, a disease that in the 1900s was not only linked with artists but incurable. How did he die? Of heart failure, at about 3am on July 15, 1904, in a first-floor bedroom of the Sommer Hotel in Badenweiler, south Germany. His wife, Olga Knipper, a star of the Moscow Arts Theatre, was with him and a German doctor named Schwoerer was in attendance.

These facts are mainstays of Chekhov biography.

Chekhov's death 100 years ago at the age of 44 (the same age as Robert Louis Stevenson, F Scott Fitzgerald, and DH Lawrence) has the poignancy of any writer's early death - the artist cheated of life, his readers cheated of his undone work. It is also, because of the eyewitness account by Olga Knipper, one of the set pieces of literary history.

"He awoke in the early hours of the night," she wrote, "and for the first time in his life himself requested that the doctor be sent for." She asked a Russian student who was staying in the hotel to run for Dr Schwoerer. "The doctor arrived and ordered champagne. Anton Pavlovich sat up and loudly informed the doctor in German (he spoke very little German): `Ich sterbe [I'm dying]…'

"He then took a glass, turned his face towards me, smiled his amazing smile and said: `It's a long time since I drank champagne…', calmly drained his glass, lay down quietly on his left side, and shortly afterwards fell silent forever."

In his stoicism and simplicity, dying without irritation or loss of self-control, Chekhov seems almost saintly. Perhaps he was. Dr Schwoerer, who had treated him throughout his three weeks'stay in Badenweiler, remarked, "He bore his severe illness like a hero; he awaited death with amazing stoical calm."

As a young man he possessed a supernatural maturity - a quality many readers feel when they read a Chekhov story, one that was due in part to his being forced to fend for himself as a teenager. His five great plays and more than 600 short stories are some of the best case-notes we have about the human condition. He was a self-made liberal in the first period of Russian liberalisation. He believed in education, in equal treatment for women and Jews. He built schools and clinics wherever he lived and fought for the peasants' cause in the famines of the 1890s.

Maxim Gorky famously wrote that "in the presence of Anton Pavlovich, everyone felt an unconscious desire to be simpler, more truthful, more himself". There can't be many better descriptions of earthly sainthood. At the same time, Olga Knipper's account of the events of July 15 has never quite convinced me. I have often puzzled over this. I think the answer is that her picture of her dying husband has a theatrical quality about it. There is nothing in her account of death's ugliness or agony, although there are - to use that overused word - Chekhovian details. In the immediate "dreadful silence" of Chekhov's dying, she mentions "a huge black moth which burst into the room like a whirlwind, beat tormentedly against the burning electric lamps and flew confusedly around the room". This detail seems on the surface so apt, but I distrust it. It seems too Chekhovian, and Chekhov would never have prettified the scene of his own death.

Why is it important to ask how truthful Olga was? Perhaps because a misleading account can lead us into misleading thoughts about the kind of writer Chekhov was. Also, because we have had only Olga's word for what happened. Chekhov's biographers have retold, sometimes embroidered her version. In Janet Malcolm's delightful companion to his writing, Reading Chekhov, she points out that in 1988 Raymond Carver published a short story based on Chekhov's death, the details of which found their way into one biography as fact.

This doesn't do justice to a writer whose job, he once wrote, was to be an impartial witness. "I have no political, religious, philosophical Weltanschauung yet," Chekhov insisted. "I change it every month and so I have to restrict myself to describing how my heroes love, marry, have children, die and how they talk." Whenever I have read Olga's account of Anton's death, I have secretly longed for that impartial witness.

Now it turns out that there was one. At least, there was another witness: the young Russian student whom Olga asked to fetch Dr Schwoerer, and who returned to the Chekhovs' hotel room, bringing the oxygen Schwoerer had asked for. He remained in the room almost throughout the succeeding events. His name was Leo (or Lev) Rabeneck. His version of events was published in the Russian émigré journal Vozrozhdeniye in Paris in 1958 and has never appeared in English, apart from a dozen lines quoted in Reading Chekhov.

By sheer accident, I discovered that Leo Rabeneck's great-nephew, Andrew Rabeneck, was a friend of friends of mine, that he lived in London and had known his great-uncle (who had settled in Kensington) when he was a boy growing up in the 1950s. When we met, he gave me a copy of his great-uncle's 14-page typescript.

Although Leo waited 50 years to write down his memory of events - his account is dated September 6, 1954 - it is careful, precise, rich in the often prosaic details one might expect to be noticed by a young student curious about life (and death). It differs very significantly from Olga's version.

Rabeneck and his brother found themselves in Badenweiler in the summer of 1904. His brother had fallen ill in Berlin en route from Moscow to Switzerland, and a doctor had recommended a spell at Badenweiler to convalesce. By chance, the brothers took rooms at the Sommer Hotel, where they recognised Olga Knipper at breakfast because the Chekhovs and Rabenecks had both been guests at Lyubimovka, the estate near Moscow owned by Stanislavsky, director at the Moscow Arts Theatre.

Olga asked the brothers to drop in on her husband, who was "very homesick for Russia and for the company of his fellow countrymen". Olga apparently told Leo that Chekhov's health was improving. When he went to call on the writer, he wrote, "I was struck by the discrepancy between this seeming improvement - for he had a very good colour and was very sunburnt - and the impression he gave at the same time of general exhaustion." Chekhov coughed frequently and spat into a small spittoon which he carried in the pocket of his jacket.

Leo often visited Chekhov. He found him optimistic about his health and making plans to return to Russia, but rapidly his restlessness began to show. On June 29, he was writing to his sister Masha: "I just can't get used to German silence and calm… I've got a tremendous longing to go to Italy." Then, unexpectedly, a heatwave struck southern Europe - the worst weather for a man suffering from advanced tuberculosis. On July 12, Chekhov had the first of two heart attacks but still appeared to rally, then on the evening of July 14 events began to move rapidly.

By Rabeneck's account, he and his brother had been sleeping soundly after a long walk in the hills when he heard Olga calling him. He dressed and ran to the other end of Badenweiler to fetch Dr Schwoerer. On his return to the room Chekhov "was breathing with difficulty, and the doctor began to give him the oxygen". After a few minutes Dr Schwoerer whispered to Rabeneck to go downstairs to the hall porter and get a bottle of champagne and a glass. As medical etiquette dictated when all hope was gone, one doctor offered champagne to the other. Dr Schwoerer poured out an almost full glass, and… Chekhov took the glass of champagne with pleasure and, with his own particular and attractive smile, said: "I haven't drunk champagne in a long time!" He drained the glass in one valiant gulp. The doctor took the empty glass from him and gave it to me… At that very moment, as I was putting the glass on the table, a strange sound seemed to come from Chekhov's throat, something rather like the noise a water-tap makes when air gets into it, and there was a gurgling sound.

Rabeneck had no idea that Chekhov had died until the doctor let the writer's hand fall and asked him to tell Frau Chekhov it was all over.

I controlled my emotion with difficulty, and said to her in a low voice: "Olga Leonardovna, my dear, the doctor says that Anton Pavlovich has passed away."

For the first minute, poor Olga Chekhova seemed to be turned to stone, so terrible and unexpected was the blow. Then, in a sort of frenzy, she threw herself at the doctor and, seizing him by the lapels of his coat, she started to shake him, repeating through her tears: "Doktor, es ist nicht wahr, Doktor, sagen Sie es ist nicht wahr. [It's not true, doctor, say it's not true!]"

Olga's own account understandably omits her breakdown. But she describes grieving alone with her husband's body till dawn, and two dramatic interruptions - the big black moth, and the champagne cork flying out of the bottle "with a terrifying bang". Leo mentions neither moth nor champagne cork - as of course he wouldn't if Olga were alone.

His account, however, clearly says that she was not. Dr Schwoerer, he wrote, asked him to stay with Olga, so he carried two armchairs on to the balcony and persuaded her to sit with him. They sat out in the mild night, occasionally exchanging a few words about Chekhov, until dawn came, and early morning, and Dr Schwoerer returned.

Rabeneck's account of staying with Olga, and of the painful process of Chekhov's dying, has the circumstantial feel of truth. His version also conveys death's dull immobility. The body was not laid out properly and, in the morning, despite Schwoerer and Rabeneck's efforts at straightening it, "[we] did not quite succeed, as the dead man's head still remained slightly turned towards the side".

A wonderfully mundane moment followed the next night, when the body was removed to the local chapel under cover of darkness, so as not to upset the other guests. Instead of a stretcher, a laundry basket was brought, Rabeneck wrote, "but, to our astonishment, the basket was not, in spite of its length, long enough for the body to lie flat, and Chekhov had to be put in it in a half-sitting position… I walked behind the men carrying the body. Light and shade from the burning torches flickered and leaped over the dead man's face, and at times it seemed to me as if Chekhov was scarcely perceptibly smiling at the fact that, by decreeing that his body should be carried in a laundry basket, Fate had linked him with humour even in death."

Yet if Leo Rabeneck gives us a more honest, less self-interested description of Chekhov's dying than Olga Knipper does, we shouldn't get too hung up on factual accounts. The more important question is, where to find truth?

Chekhov found it in realism, writing on subjects he knew at first hand. He set out to make ordinary people freer by showing them the truth, in fiction. How would he have written his own death - the one event he could not describe from experience?

There is an unfinished Chekhov story, "Poor Compensation", in which Bondaryov, a stickler for order, is dying very slowly (like Chekhov), and the unspoken emotion among his family, particularly his wife who is desperate to escape to her lover, is a wish that he would just hurry up and get on with it. He also rehearsed his death in two published stories, "The Black Monk" and "The Bishop".

In the second of these, a bishop who has contracted typhus dies peacefully, without protest. In both, the characters experience visions as they die. Chekhov believed that everyone who dies sees something that they cannot tell. We cannot know what he saw. To that extent, every report of his death will always be invented and incomplete."



From "SmallChekhov" Fall 2005:

The Second Chekhov, invisible, only the dying Anton sees him, hears and talks with that Chekhov, who will live after his death in 1904. Who lives now... Even in Fairbanks, Alaska.

(Letters edited by Lillian Hellman, as if she wanted to write about him?)


index * acting * SHOWS directory * WRITE directory @ GeoAlaska * Script Analysis * Film Analysis * Directing * Acting * Theatre Books * Film Books * 200X Aesthetcis * Bookmark vTheatre! * My Nonfiction (webtexts): Theology of Technology * POV * PostAmeriKa * Father-Russia * Anatoly Theatre Blog - News
CHE'05 : cast and crew @ groups.yahoo.com/group/wwwilde *

Small Chekhov: one-acts

2006: Farces webcast: "Four Jokes & One Funeral"

Act I: Oh, Love! (Bear + Proposal)

Act II: Ah, Marriage! (Wedding + Tobacco) Chekhov-Analysis

Plays :
[ That Worthless Fellow Platonov (c.1881) - one act ]
On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco (1886, 1902)
The Bear (1888) - one act comedy
The Proposal or A Marriage Proposal (c.1888-1889) - one act
Swang Song

High Road

[ The plays are not edited yet. I have to work on translation as well... ]

"My business is to be talented, that is, to be capable of selecting the important moments from the trivial ones....It's about time for writers ~ particularly those who are genuine artists ~ to recognize that in this world you cannot figure out everything. Just have a writer who the crowds trust be courageous enough and declare that he does not understand everything, and that lone will represent a major contribution to the way people think, a long leap forward." (May, 1888)

"Early Chekhov"

Anatoly Smelyansky: Leading twentieth-century directors have linked Chekhov's vaudevilles with the whole of his art. Meyerhold was the first to do this in a 1933 production called Thirty-Three Swoons, which combined the leitmotifs from many of the vaudevilles. He also split the male and female characters into two separate parties, turning the gender struggle into a choral Greek conflict. More recently, Pyotr Fomenko directed a gloomy, mystical production of The Wedding that enlarged the scope of the vaudeville by turning it into a play about human nature. The vaudevilles by themselves have historical significance. But, for me, the most interesting thing in them is Chekhov himself. Not the characters, but the writer who wrote them. The A.R.T. production, which combines the vaudevilles with scenes from Chekhov's own life and death, shows this positive tendency to make connections.

RM: How would you contrast the vaudevilles with Chekhov's major plays?

AS: The later dramas are parodies of the vaudevilles. Look at Chekhov's famous devices from the serious dramas: the muffling of events, silences, pauses, idleness, the desire to do nothing, the inability to solve questions, complaining. In the vaudevilles, it's the opposite. Those heroes have goals; every second they are doing something to get what they want. In the serious dramas, there is an unresolved central tension. In the vaudevilles, everything is possible, and often the characters get what they want. Chekhov reconstructed his vision of life when he began to write the serious dramas.

RM: What happens to Chekhov's farcical sensibilities in his later plays?

AS: Chekhov's later plays all have farcical elements in them. Comedy is always very close to Chekhov. It's the most important part of his vision of life. Without that ingredient, Chekhov doesn't exist. The Cherry Orchard, for example, has elements of farce in its structure and characters. In 1904, The Moscow Art Theatre (MXAT) couldn't bear to stage The Cherry Orchard as farce. Stanislavsky declared it a tragedy; Chekhov insisted it was a comedy. But in 1931, Nemirovich-Danchenko restaged The Cherry Orchard as a comedy while he was in Italy. We're about to publish the letters in which he states that the Moscow Art Theatre misunderstood the play in 1904. Until the last day of his life, Chekhov felt the farcical aspects of life. Look at the letters from his last month in Germany. If he were able, he probably would have written a vaudeville about German life in a spa.

RM: What provoked the change from farce to tragicomedy in Chekhov's plays?

AS: Chekhov wrote the vaudevilles and comic short stories to make a living. He once joked, "My Bear gave me more money than the gypsies' real bears." But he never considered the vaudevilles his ultimate goal. And something happened to him in the middle of the 1880s. He had become a fairly well-established writer and doctor. And this comfortable position forced him to ask, like Ivanov: what now? And there was another impetus to move onto something bigger. In 1884 he began coughing up blood, which he undoubtedly recognized as the onset of tuberculosis. In 1887, Chekhov published his first novel, The Steppe, and the important writers of the age immediately recognized Chekhov as a new voice. And Chekhov now realized he could be a serious writer. With The Steppe, Chekhov found his own distinctive style. And with The Seagull and Uncle Vanya, he tried to bring that voice to his drama.

Russian Connection -- http://www.amrep.org/past/farces/farces3.html

Yana Meerzon -- "On the Techniques of Defamiliarization: Rhythm and Action in Chekhov's Dramatic Texts":

It was Vsevolod Meyerhold, who, simultaneously with Andrey Bely, the prophet of Symbolism in Russian literature, recognized and underscored the peculiar rhythmical structure of Anton Chekhov's dramatic works. Meyerhold was the first to see that Chekhov's poeticity and atmosphere/mood was expressed through rhythmically organized patterns of letters and punctuation marks on the pages of his texts. Meyerhold described the action of The Cherry Orchard's climatic scene as a symphony in words: "it contains the principle, pining melody with changing moods in pianissimo and some flashes of forte (Ranevskaya's emotions), and as a background - a dissonant accompaniment - the monotonous clank of the provincial orchestra and the dance of the living dead (the townsfolk)". Such is the musical harmony of the act. (Meyerhold, Naturalisticheskii teatr in teatr nastroeniya , 1906).

Although there is mutual understanding and agreement on the musicality of Chekhov's texts among both theater practitioners and theoreticians, no detailed study of the discrepancy or dramatic tension between the rhythmical pattern of the implied action and its graphical expression on the page has yet been undertaken. In my paper I seek to identify such discrepancies and analyze Chekhov's drama as a form of rhythmical notation, similar in its functions to Labanotation in dance. Thus, I approach Chekhov's text as a form of visual representation of the dramatic action through various pictorial codes. The choice of word combinations, syntax and punctuation served Chekhov as the point of departure for the rhythmical characterization of stage action expressed through different types of dialogic and monologic utterances. As its theoretical frame, the paper uses Andrey Bely's understanding of rhythm in literature, Viktor Shklovsky's notion of defamiliarization and Eikhenbaum's definition of skaz to characterize the devices of dramatic irony and characterization employed in Chekhov's texts. As its theatrical application, the article draws upon the example of Michael Chekhov's adaption of his uncle's short stories for his solo performances. http://aix1.uottawa.ca/~jdclayt/workshop/abstracts.htm

* In the play Thirty Three Swoons, which is a collection of four farces written by Anton Palovish Chekhov. The play consists of these short productions in order, Swan Song, The Bear, The Proposal, and The Wedding. Each of them their own unique plays that pokes fun on the Russian middle class. The whole production, I believed played on and made fun of a society that is not always familiar with society today. I have no knowledge of Russian society in the late 1800s. I don’t believe most do, I believe the production as a whole was a failure, because while watching the play, most of those in the audience did not laugh at the puns, and one liners that focused on Russian society. In my opinion the production itself was a failure for this time period, yet the acting was splendid. In the first short act, Swan Song, an actor, played an theatre actor; the costumes were well set in the time period in which the play was written.

One-acts Webcast 2005: "Four Farces and a Funeral"
For a Guy Who's Been Dead for 97 Years, That Chekhov Sure Is Prolific

... For nearly a century directors and performers have tried to squeeze more out of Chekhov. Some companies produce his early and less admired plays. Others adapt one or another of his many short stories for the stage. Neil Simon wove pieces of several of the stories into his 1974 tribute, "The Good Doctor."

As a young doctor in the late 1880's, Chekhov earned money on the side by churning out a highly popular string of one- act farces, vaudeville pieces that combined silliness with gentle social satire.

Mr. Brustein has knit three of these into "Three Farces and a Funeral," which is appearing in repertory here through Jan. 14. He has appended a miniplay of his own that depicts Chekhov on his deathbed in 1904 at 44.

In between the pieces Mr. Brustein has inserted excerpts from the hundreds of letters that Chekhov exchanged with his actress and future wife, Olga Knipper. She was starring in his plays on stages across Russia, but he was unable to share the glory because his tuberculosis led him to abandon Moscow for the more forgiving climate of Yalta on the Black Sea.

Mr. Brustein is not the only American playwright with a new Chekhov adaptation in hand. Frank Galati, a member of the Chicago-based Steppenwolf ensemble, wrote a dramatization of Chekhov's short story "The Duel" that was produced in Chicago last fall by Steppenwolf and the European Repertory Company.

"Chekhov's obsession is the psychology of human character," Mr. Galati said. "Because he has such a passionate interest in the domestic melodrama, he's perfect for the stage."

American Rep's "Three Farces and a Funeral" cannot rise too far above its central material, the farces themselves, frippery that Chekhov probably never considered profound or even serious. Yet by combining them with material from Chekhov's life, the production gives viewers an unusual insight into his character.

They also show that Chekhov had a light, funny, mischievous side that is not part of his artistic image. He complained about the image of his works, asserting that even the most famous contemporary director of his plays, Constantin Stanislavsky, had failed to understand their humor and turned them into weepy tragedies.

Chekhov once said that "vaudeville plots abound in me as does oil in the depths of Baku." The first presented by Mr. Brustein, "The Proposal," centers on a nervous landowner who wants to marry an argumentative neighbor. Next is "The Bear," in which a businessman sets out to collect a debt from a young widow and ends up facing a duel with her. In the third, "The Wedding," a general who is invited to a wedding party to give it status turns out to be only a retired mid-ranking naval officer.

As directed by Yuri Yeremin, artistic director of the Moscow Pushkin Theater, who like Mr. Brustein is a well-known Chekhov interpreter, the three pieces are zany slapstick. There are outrageous outfits, pratfalls, characters who bray and cluck and bark like animals, and dialogue like this:

She: "Everyone knows that your wife used to beat you."

He: "Everyone knows that you are the scum of the neighborhood."

The characters, like those in Chekhov's major plays, are ordinary, even trivial people. The nature of farce, which Chekhov called "an explosion of pain in comic form," dictates that they not be presented seriously or in great depth.

To anchor this light fare, Mr. Brustein turns the two lead players in the first farce into Chekhov and Olga Knipper, who stand at opposite sides of the stage and speak lines taken from their letters. He addresses her as "actress," and she calls him "writer."

Chekhov (played in this production by Jeremiah Kissel) was long an avowed bachelor, but in his letters he tells Knipper (played by the Belgrade-trained Mirjana Jokovic, who appeared in the films "Underground" and "Cabaret Balkan") that he wants her near him. She is torn by her desire to nurse him through his illness and the demands of her career.

"How can I come to Yalta when I'm rehearsing your play for the Petersburg tour?" she asks at one point.

In 1901 the couple finally married, but their time together was shadowed by Chekhov's illness. Mr. Brustein ends his own play with his version of the deathbed scene, a sketch called "Chekhov on Ice." It suggests that Chekhov appreciated the paradox of a great talent being given such a short and unhealthy life.

His reported last words were, "I haven't had Champagne for a long time."



Next: filmplus.org/thrtheatre theory
Anton Chekhov's Short Stories (Norton Critical Edition) W. W. Norton & Company (April 1, 1979) ISBN: 0393090027 In over 35 years of reading adult literature, these are my all-time favorite works. Chekhov has an uncanny and incomparable ability: virtually nothing happens in many of his stories, yet as you close the book you are aware that something deep and wonderful about human character has been revealed. Chekhov has often been described as being unsurpassed in describing the RUSSIAN character, but I find his descriptions of people, their insecurities and their relationships, to be universal.
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A Life In Letters (Penguin Classics) by Anton Chekhov, Rosamund Bartlett, Anthony Phillips 551 pages Publisher: Penguin Books (September 28, 2004) ISBN: 0140449221 From his teenage years in provincial Russia to his premature death in 1904, Anton Chekhov wrote thousands of letters to a wide range of correspondents. This fascinating new selection tells Chekhov’s story as a man and a writer through affectionate bulletins to his family, insightful discussions of literature with publishers and theater directors, and tender love letters to his actress wife. Vividly evoking landscapes, people, and his daily life, the letters offer revealing glimpses into Chekhov’s preoccupations—the onset of tuberculosis, his dual careers as doctor and writer, and his ambivalence about his growing reputation as Russia’s foremost playwright and author. This volume takes us inside the mind of one of the world’s greatest writers, and the character that emerges from these pages is resilient, generous, charming, and life enhancing. @2005 film-north

Chekhov-One-Acts ACT I: Oh, Love!

The Bear tells of a wealthy heiress, recently widowed, who receives an unwelcome visit from a landowner to whom her late husband was in debt. Their social pleasantries quickly descend into a fierce quarrel, and before he knows it, the landowner has challenged the widow to a duel.

In The Proposal, a nervous young landowner has come to propose marriage to his neighbor's daughter. No sooner does he summon up the courage to ask her, though, than they begin to argue about property rights, and their squabbling threatens to destroy their chances of a match.

ACT II: Ah, Marriage!

The Wedding takes place at the marriage feast of Aplombov and his bride Dasha. A group of eccentrics has gathered for the party, and their squabbles quickly reduce the celebration into pandemonium.

Tobacco -- lecture ("Chekhov" plays this character).

... Anton's health, meanwhile, has deteriorated, and his doctors move him to a spa in northern Germany, where Olga hurries to join him...

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + american age + self + future + death + past + present + time + space + love + family + generations + god * 2007
... Chekhov's illness worsened and on July 1, 1904, he died. Olga was at his bedside. At the last, he was given champagne. Glass in hand, he smiled and said,
"It's a long while since I've drunk champagne."
He drank it, turned on his side and died moments later. A huge black moth suddenly flew in through the open window, batted wildly against the lamp, and then found its way out, leaving silence. Olga later consoled herself with the recollection: "There was only beauty, peace and the grandeur of death."


Selected Stories of Anton Chekov by ANTON CHEKHOV, RICHARD PEVEAR (Translator), LARISSA VOLOKHONSKY (Translator) Bantam (October 31, 2000) ISBN: 0553381008 "This is an adagio reading, distinctive and fresh, that returns us to a work we thought we knew, subtly altered and so made new again." -- The Washington Post Book World on the PEN Translation Award
textbooks (POD):

method acting for directors
stagematrix: directing

Russian Play (new)

Early Short Stories, 1883-1888 (Modern Library) 672 pages Publisher: Modern Library (January 26, 1999) ISBN: 0679603174 "...Chekhov is a supreme artist," said Harold Brodkey. "He has conferred more meaning on us than any other artist of the century. He is the founding master and tutelary spirit of democratic realism."
This collection, selected by Shelby Foote, presents seventy of Chekhov's early short stories, written between 1883 and 1888, in celebrated translations by Constance Garnett. One of the most memorable is "The Death of a Government Clerk," a glorious parody in which a fawning official is undone by an ill-timed sneeze. "On the Road," the history of an educated man's search for convictions, is one of Chekhov's finest dramatic stories and the source of his first full-length play, Ivanov. And in "The Steppe," which marked a turning point in Chekhov's career, a boy's picaresque journey across the Russian heartland evokes the soul of Russia itself. Also included are "The Huntsman," "Anyuta," "Easter Eve," "Happiness," and "The Kiss."
"Chekhov is a superb anatomist of the human heart and an utter master of his literary means," said John Barth. "The details of scene and behavior, the emotions registered--seldom bravura, typically muted and complex, often as surprising to the characters themselves as to the reader, but always right--move, astonish, and delight us line after line, story after story." Eudora Welty agreed: "Chekhov, speaking simply and never otherwise than as an artist and a humane man, showed us in fullness and plenitude the mystery of our lives.... What truth [he] found through his stories is ours forever."

Anton Chekhov's Selected Plays (Norton Critical Editions)
Anton Chekhov revolutionized Russian theater through his inimitable portrayals of characters faced with complex moral dilemmas. This Norton Critical Edition includes five of Chekhov's major plays—Ivanov, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard—and three early one-act farces that inform his later work—The Bear, The Wedding, and The Celebration. Laurence Senelick's masterful translations closely preserve Chekhov's singular style-his abundant jokes and literary allusions and his careful use of phrase repetition to bind the plays together.
"Letters" is the largest collection of Chekhov's commentary on his plays ever to appear in an English-language edition.
674 pages Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd Ed edition (November 30, 2004) ISBN: 0393924653

"THIRTY THREE SWOONS" : The Celebration, Swan Song, The Harmfulness of Tobacco, The Brute

Latrec polka5.mid is playing, when he is dying and dead...

from "Goodbye, goodbye" (one-act)

Voices: "He cried about his helplessness, about his terrible loneliness, about the cruelty of people, about the cruelty of God, about the absence of God."

HE: I am ready. I am ready for many years... I am waiting...

Voices: "...'Why hast Thou done all this? Why hast Thou brought me to this? Why dost Thou torture me so? For what?'..."

HE: No, no priest!

SHE: What did you say, dear? Yes, yes...

Voices: "If a man has learn to think, no matter what he may think about, he is always thinking of his own death. All philosophers were like that. And what truths can there be, if there is death?" (Tolstoy)

HE: No, I am not thinking about it...

SHE: What are you thinking about, darling?

HE: A short-story...

SHE: A short-story?

HE: What time is now? Never mind. A story...

SHE: Yes, yes, I will write it down, my Dear Writer...

HE: People climbed trees and laughed, broke crosses and swore as they fought for a place. They asked loudly, 'Which is the wife? And the sister? Look, they're crying...'

SHE: Yes, I writing -- "Which is the wife? And the sister? Look, they're crying..."

HE: Yes, and the railroad car for frozen fish, to keep the body on ice...

SHE: "The railroad car for fish..."

HE: Big, German, commercial car -- to make to Moscow in two days -- "Fresh Lobsters"... (smiles) Yes, "Fresh Lobsters"!

SHE: "Fresh Lobsters"... (tears)

HE: Are you here?

SHE: Here, here (grabs his hand again).

HE: Good, keep writing, please. Did you write about the fat policeman on the fat white horse?

SHE: A policeman?

HE: Yes, at the station in Moscow, very hot -- and both, he and the horse are sweating... I want a drink. Lets have some champagne together. Now I can... You know that I like champagne.

SHE: Yes, yes, I have a bottle... (cries)

HE: Is it night now?

SHE: Yes, it's dark already...

HE: Sorry, I don't let you sleep. I talk too much. Did you read the papers today? Any news? The war?

SHE: I don't know, my friend, the same, bad...

HE: Bad. Yes. What is it? (moves his hand)

SHE: I don't see anything... Here is your champagne (gives him a glass).

HE: A butterfly? I feel it, like a touch by angel... (drinks) It's a long while since I've drunk champagne.


I have to finish this one-act over the summer -- and for the first time I want to write it in Russian, translating (myself) into English later (before Sept. 2005). I feel that I do not hear Chekhov, writing in English right away.

What am I to do with the new one-act in Russian?


"I am so depressed by this funeral... as if I was smeared by sticky, foul-smelling filth... People climbed trees and laughed, broke crosses and swore as they fought for a place. They asked loudly, 'Which is the wife? And the sister? Look, they're crying...' [Russian opera singer] Chaliapin burst into tears and cursed: 'And he lived for these bastards, he worked, taught, argued for them." (Gorky)

( voices or comments by the characters in his plays )

[ chekhov.vtheatre.net ]


Chekhov Now : Schiele-Face

Chekhov's world -- above (second level).

Chekhov Now : Schiele-Face

Chekhov's Death [ru] -- see chekhov.vtheatre.net/ru

UAF 2005 (Chekhov's one acts) Costumes by Tara Maginnis *


* chekhov.us

[lulu.com?] chekhov [ru] pages -- in Russian ("Double Chekhov")

THR215 Fall 2007 Dramatic Literature

Taming of the Shrew online


Stage Directing Group

Film-North * Anatoly Antohin rate
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2009: maybe I will get again to this "project" in Addis Ababa. With white actors at LUL? In English... Or this is a video-story?

But The Bear is with Ethiopian actors? [Fall'09]

How about the Lul Readers Theatre?

Puskhin, Gogol, Gumilev... and Chekhov [3 Sisters are planed].

"Dear Writer, Dear Actress"... for for training.

Could it be "Chekhov Only" -- reading all his plays?

... here we go:

lul seasons


The Bear on the same bill with Shrew-3 [Dinner Theatre]


[ different directories for images ]

2009 & After