— Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian writer and physician.
The son of a grocer and grandson of a serf, he helped support his family, while he studied medicine, by writing humorous sketches. His reputation as a master of the short story was assured when in 1888 The Steppe, a story in his third collection, won the Pushkin Prize. The Island of Sakhalin (1893-94) was a report on his visit to a penal colony in 1890. Thereafter he lived in Melikhovo, near Moscow, where he ran a free clinic for peasants, took part in famine and epidemic relief, and was a volunteer census-taker.
His first play, Ivanov (1887), had little success, but The Seagull (1898), Uncle Vanya (1899), The Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904) were acclaimed when produced by the Moscow Art Theater.
In 1901 Chekhov married the actress Olga Knipper, the interpreter of many of his characters. Three years later he died of tuberculosis.
The style of his stories, novels, and plays, emphasizing internal drama, characterization, and mood rather than plot and focusing on the tragicomic aspects of banal events, had great influence.
— Trevor Griffiths (Adaptation)
Has been writing for the theatre, television and cinema since the late 60s. His work has been seen throughout the world and he has won numerous awards. His best-known stage play, Comedians, has been in constant production around the world since its premiere in 1975. For his film Reds, written with Warren Beatty, he received the WGA Best Screenplay Award and an Oscar nomination. Other films have included Country directed by Richard Eyre and Fatherland directed by Ken Loach. From the 80s onwards he has also directed his own work both in theatre and on film. His most recent production is the television film Food For Ravens which he both wrote and directed. He is known both for his original works - contemporary and historical - and for his adaptations of works by writers such as Lawrence and Chekhov.
Chekhov's characteristic genius and feeling for a society in transition are most fully expressed in his last great play, The Cherry Orchard. It is a comedy in a form peculiar to Chekhov and not easily defined, showing as it does thirteen widely differentiated characters in situations that are by turn farcical, tragic and romantic. Written in 1903, the year before he died, the play tells of an old family estate up for auction and how, with the sale, a whole way of life comes to an end.
The Cherry Orchard was first produced by the Moscow Art Theatre on Chekhov's last birthday, January 17, 1904. Since that time it has become one of the most critically admired and performed plays in the Western world, a high comedy whose principal theme, the passing of the old semi-feudal order, is symbolized in the sale of the cherry orchard owned by Madame Ranevsky.
The play also functions as a magnificent showcase for Chekhov's acute observations of his characters' foibles and for quizzical ruminations on the approaching dissolution of the world of the Russian aristocracy and life as it was lived on their great country estates. While the subject and the characters of the work are, in a sense, timeless, the dramatic technique of the play was a Chekhovian innovation. In this and other plays he developed the concept of "indirect action," in which the dramatic action takes place off stage and the significance of the play revolves around the reactions of the characters to those unseen events.
“Of the four major plays that Chekhov wrote, this, his last, is the least fraught, the most delightful. Even the sadness we may feel at the heroine’s loss of her estate, and the handing over of her beautiful orchard of cherry trees to the real estate developer’s axe, is mitigated by her extravagance, her silliness, her lack of concentration.
There’s a slight feeling of You Can’t Take
It With You’s household of screwballs, which supports Chekhov’s
contention that The Cherry Orchard is a comedy: the stage is crowded
with odd characters.”
Copyright © 2003-14 Ken Kamlet / Sparky Unleashed | All Rights Reserved | Contact