The 110th anniversary of The Cherry Orchard prompted me to stage this phenomenal play with my company, on the exact dates of the anniversary of its premiere at the Moscow Art Theatre. For this show I wore several hats: director, producer, set designer, event manager, translator, and a few others. You can find the Playbill for the show, including my director’s notes, here.
Here’s the promotional video for the show, which captures the mix of serious and funny that Chekhov writes in every line and we sought to match at every step.
“What is there in the empty space of the role? […] You have to discover material for the role and organize the scenes in pauses, between phrases, between the lines and even between words.”
Jurij Alschitz, 40 Questions of One Role
Cherry Blossoms was developed for the May 2013 Forward Flux collaborate:create “Power of Silence” 3-week residency at Theaterlab. For more info click here. With Rebecca Tucker and Kelly Sloan.
I see silence as the zero-point energy of theatre, the point where everything can be created from nothing. How can a short scene expand – and to what extent – into a longer piece, and at what distance lines and fragments of the text can still cohere or instead become other?
To attempt a response to this question, in “Cherry Blossoms” I explored the silence between lines and words, as a place for events to occur in the absence of speech.
The actors and I devised three versions of the same brief dialogue from the first act of Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. Two sisters, Anya and Varya, reunite after one of them has been on a long trip. The different lengths of these versions – about 1, 3, and 5 minutes – depend on how the silence in the interstices of the text is either ignored or allowed to blossom.
The final directing project of the professional development “School after Theater” session held in Moscow consisted in choosing a short section of Chekhov’s The Seagull to be performed as an entire show. I worked with four actors from the Swedish National Theatre, plus many master class participants who were called to embody the dreams and expectations of the protagonists in the background. I directed in English, while the performance was in Swedish: despite the short (but intense) rehearsal time, I was impressed by the combination of focus and flexibility demonstrated by the players, which resulted in a really crisp performance. Plus, this was even more exciting as it was held in Stanislavsky’s own “chamber theatre.”