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The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
April 23 @ 2:30 pm
THE CHERRY ORCHARD (written by Anton Chekhov) takes place on the grounds of Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya’s estate, somewhere in the provinces of Russia. Lopakhin, a sometime peasant who has become a wealthy businessman, and Dunyasha, the maid, are waiting for Lyubov. She has been away from home a long time, living in Paris with her lover. When she arrives with her daughter, Anya, she is welcomed by her brother, Gayev, and other family, friends, staff (including long time butler Feirs) and her neighbors. Lyubov and Gayev recall happy times from their childhoods on the estate. But unless the family can raise enough money to save it, the estate will have to be sold to clear Lyubov’s debts. They concoct several plans, one of which entails cutting down their famous cherry orchard. But no one plan is settled upon. As August approaches, when the estate must be auctioned off to meet the mortgage payments, what unfolds in this household is a comedy-drama of timeless, bittersweet beauty.
THE CHERRY ORCHARD is universally acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of world theatre.
This play was written in 1904 and premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre. The Czars were still in control of the country, but there was severe unrest sprinkled with nuggets of hope as the peasants and serfs who had been oppressed for hundreds of years in a static unforgiving class system, were seeing the benefit of a changing economy, and more opportunities to thrive. Hope and oppression imploded and exploded when the Russian Revolution started in 1917.
I decided to take a risk with this production. We have moved up the time period to 1968. Again, Russia in the 1960’s was living during the Brezhnev era, and classes were clashing, and brief economic reforms, that later failed, were providing a sense of false hope for many people who wanted to work their way to a better life. In the US, we also saw conflict, as The Vietnam War was taking its toll, the devastating Detroit Riots had taken place a year before in 1967, and music, especially rock and roll, was providing the youth outlets for self expression and rebellion. Woodstock would happen a year later in 1969.