February 2nd, 2006

MG Puck

The Cherry Orchard- Chekhov

Yesterday a group of us ( see attached pictures) went to see the Sydney Theatre Company production of The Cherry Orchard. The STC had imported the English Director Howard Davies to work with Sydney actors. The result was mind-blowing. Instead of the traditional Chekhov where you have rather listless people gazing into the distance with their hands over their brows saying "what shall we do now!" in this production you had sudden, electrifying action depicting the inner states of Chekhov's characters. The cast -Peter Carroll, John Gaden and Robyn Nevin - to name a few- were selected from among the best Sydney actors: it was a great performance. We also had the good fortune to hear a short talk by the Australian co-director before the performance. He spoke about the way this play captures a moment of time in human history just before the great changes that took place in human history. In the 19th Century Europe and England had been going through massive industrial changes and with that a huge shift in the social structure. The poor and middle classes were becoming more powerful in England at this time. But in Russia the old feudal system in which Aristocrats controlled their peasants was still in existence, although it was under threat. This play depicts the moment in which the old order crumbled. The play was performed in 1904. In 1905 there was the Russian Revolution. So the play was profoundly prophetic. If you are interested in great theatre and into an insight into what was going on in the 19th Century then don't miss it... it is only on for a few more days... and you should be able to get student tickets. Accompanying pictures commemorate the ACU presence and some shots of the perfomance. AS you can see I am somewhat besotted by the camera in my phone... even getting my wife Rosie to capture ME on location...!!!!
More about all this when we have our Chekhov lecture in about 9 weeks??? !!!
MG Puck

The sparse stage set

As the assistant director explained, they wanted a large, rather empty space to suggest an age in transition... a space that would give each of the characters lots of scope to express their individuality... There was a wonderful effect created by the sun streaming in through doors at the end with the sounds of birds in the Cherry Orchard... the haunting sound of a steam train at the start and the finish framed the play with a symbol of the impact of modern times on an old way of life.