Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (dir. Michael Lugering)

Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (dir. Michael Lugering)

For this show I wrote my dramaturg’s notes (read below) and put together the full evening program.
I also interviewed the director, Michael Lugering: you can find our conversation here.

Dramaturg’s Notes

In January 2000, while I was studying at the GITIS, the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts in Moscow, I visited Melikhovo, the country estate Anton Chekhov had purchased in 1892 from Nikolai Sorokhtin, a set decorator for the Hermitage summer garden theatre in Moscow. Chekhov worked to improve the condition of the estate, and used his study as medical office where he cared for patients from various villages, factories, and a nearby monastery. In 1899, after the success of The Seagull at the Moscow Art Theatre, the author invited the lead actress, Olga Knipper, to visit him at the estate. She married him in 1901. As his tuberculosis worsened, Chekhov was forced to abandon Melikhovo and move south, to Yalta, in the Crimean Peninsula. He sold the estate to a timber merchant on August 18, 1899. These facts alone suffice to trace elements of The Cherry Orchard back to the playwright’s biography, but of course the action has been refined and transfigured. The play premiered in 1914 at the Moscow Art Theatre and is regarded as the Russian playwright’s masterpiece.

At a time when our perception of Russia is clouded by the interference of its ruler’s politics of destructive war and invasion, it is even more crucial to remind ourselves of the contributions of Russian artists to the richness of world culture. Indeed, The Cherry Orchard continues to speak to us today. One of its core themes, the relationship between beauty, nature, and capital, is still a burning topic in a world increasingly under siege by climate change and tough economic choices. How can beauty thrive without sensible business and environmental practices? Is beauty even possible without exploitation?

This Fall semester marks the beginning of my work as Resident Dramaturg for the Nevada Conservatory Theatre. Apart from the excitement of collaborating with exceptional colleagues and students in the Department of Theatre at UNLV, I see my role as an opportunity to both expand the audience’s awareness of the multi-threaded creative journey that leads to each production and increase NCT’s porosity in relation to the Las Vegas community.

To start with, thanks to the freedom afforded by a digital program, we have supplemented the director’s notes with the voice of the set designer and photos from the rehearsal process. We also scheduled a talk-back opportunity for the creative team to respond to questions and impressions by the spectators. Finally, we have sprinkled a few cherry jokes and puns throughout this program, in line with Chekhov’s comedic sense of his play.

Other plans are in the works for future productions but, for now, enjoy this play masterfully directed, designed, and acted by a cohesive and vibrant ensemble of faculty professionals and MFA students poised for a successful career in the theatre!



Stebos is a stage director, producer, and dramaturg, based in Las Vegas and New York City in the United States.

Stebos has 47 posts and counting. See all posts by Stebos

Leave a Reply