If you asked me five years ago what are two words I would associate with Anton Chekhov and his plays, the answer would have come to me quite readily: whining and vodka.
Those two words can be a dangerous combination. But that’s all I would initially remember about Chekhov plays: that there was a lot of alcohol being consumed which seemed to lead to a lot of complaining. Then, this would lead me to want give the characters a good smack on the back of the head and shout: “Would you just go to Moscow already?” Oh, and then there is the sound of a string breaking randomly during the second act.
Looking back, this first impulse towards the Russian playwright makes me want to smack my younger self on the back of the head. Because five years later, when I am a little older and possibly a tad wiser, there is no other playwright I would wish to explore for our company’s first production besides Anton Chekhov.
Brian, Emily, and I founded HTTC because we were starving for theatre that could nourish all of the senses. And just like us, Chekhov characters have a deep and glorious hunger for love, freedom, vodka, sex, art, food, seagulls, and life. Somehow, with remarkably and deceptively simple language, every single one of Chekhov’s characters has an epic capacity for needing, wanting, and desiring someone or something. It overwhelms them and consumes all of their thoughts and actions. Irina only talks about Moscow because it’s all she can think about. Moscow never leaves her. How can she not constantly talk about it?
So I understand now. I understand that Chekhov characters aren’t whining. They’re trying. They’re trying so very hard to get what they want. All Chekhov characters are prepared to do anything and everything to accomplish their dreams. So they set out to attain that goal, but there are numerous obstacles popping up in their way. So they try again. And again. And again. And again. The struggle never ceases. And yes, of course, sometimes they get bogged down with their hardships, but they never say ‘enough is enough’ and give up. They must go on. They work. They live.
So now, at this moment, what are the two words I associate with Chekhov? Simple: hunger and heart.
Sounds like a perfect playwright for HTTC to me.
What two words do you associate with Chekhov? Post to us and let us know!
And thanks for reading! See you next week!