FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chekhov’s Greatest Masterpiece Opens at The Western Stage
Salinas, CA – The Western Stage (TWS) is concluding its 2005 studio season with one of the most beloved masterpieces in the theatrical canon, Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, which just last year celebrated the 100th anniversary of its premiere at the Moscow Art Theatre. Directed by TWS artistic director Jon Patrick Selover, this production of Chekhov’s tragicomic tale of the colorful Gaev family and their declining fortunes promises to live up to the playwright’s intentions and, unlike more traditional productions, underscore the comedy in the play.
Although he is considered one of the most respected and studied playwrights of the 20th century, Chekhov is often misinterpreted. His plays are frequently presented as brooding tragedies when, in fact, he considered them comedies, once claiming that “The Cherry Orchard” was a vaudevillian farce.
The roots of this misinterpretation of Chekhov’s
plays can be traced all the way back to Constantine Stanislavski, the founder
Cherry Orchard Release – Page 2
creator of “method acting”. Despite Chekhov’s insistence that his plays were comedies, Stanislavski disagreed with the playwright and directed them as tragedies. His heavily naturalistic productions often suffocated the humor right out of the plays, which, of course, lead to many a heated exchange between the these two giants of 20th century theatre. (For more on this, see supplemental article).
This is not to say Stanislavski’s interpretation was not without merit. The Gaev family is in a distinctly tragic situation. They are deeply in debt and are facing the grim prospect of having their family estate sold out from under them. What Stanislavski missed, however, was Chekhov’s astute perception that although the situation his characters are in may be tragic, their irrational and always very human reactions to the situation can indeed be comic.
“The Cherry Orchard” is directed by TWS artistic director Jon Patrick Selover, whose previous directorial efforts with Chekhov include two productions for TWS, “Uncle Vanya” (1993) and “The Cherry Orchard” (1994), and a production of “The Cherry Orchard” for The Denver Center in 1995.
The Western Stage concludes its 2005 season in December with Kenneth Grahame’s classic “Wind and the Willows”.
Dan Tarker Literary Associate
Mike Baker Trofimov
Richard Courtney Firs
Deborah Curtis Dunyasha
Ron Genauer Gayev
Jeffrey Heyer Lopakhin
Sherry Kefalas Charlotta
Jim McClean Pischik
Carla Pantoja Varya
Suzanne Sturn Madame Ranevsky
Ryan Tasker Yasha
Daniel Tarker Epihodov