By J. L. Styan
For an entire figuring out of any textual content, cautious attention needs to be given to its existence in functionality. during this lucrative learn of 4 of Chekhov's significant performs - Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard and 3 Sisters - J. L. Styan demonstrates the advance of Chekhov's abilities as a dramatist and discusses level motion, portrayal of personality, differing twentieth-century productions and the viewers reactions they evoked.
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Extra resources for Chekhov in Performance
Nina stammers a little and tries to pick up where she left off, her voice now more shrill. Suddenly, sitting to one side of the group, and oblivious to all that is going on, Polina speaks. Her words ring out and are clearly heard by everyone as she chastizes the Doctor for having taken off his hat in the night air, probably to mop his brow in the heat. Although Polina is not really interested in whether Treplev's play succeeds or fails, it is she who inadvertently completes the disruption. As all heads turn to look in her direction, the movement of white faces in the moonlight catches the eye, and as general laughter is about to erupt, Arkadina takes up the theme to her own advantage: she will be the chief performer yet.
Her opening line, which has puzzled and amused many playgoers by the obliquity of its meaning, must immediately strike an audience as comic, in whatever tone it is spoken. MEDVEDENKO. Why do you always wear black? MASHA. I am in mourning for my life. I am unhappy. 3 Whatever an audience might have expected after viewing the fantasy of the setting, it was not this. It is as if Masha were trying to conclude a conversation abruptly, not start one. Her casual and pettish reply is a whimsically cruel stroke against her dull lover, although it may be justified by her unrequited love for Treplev, as will appear.
15 The Seagull course is a theatrical illusion, is especially strong in Treplev, Nina and Trigorin in The Seagull, but Chekhov made matters no easier for the actors by having them reveal themselves only within the small community the play presents on the stage. The group acting is only possible because Chekhov has first precisely conceived his characters as individuals, each with a life of his own. Each is self-regarding, each is to himself a hero: Treplev battling against his mother, and his own weakness, for self-esteem; Arkadina herself battling against the onset of middleage to hold her lover; Trigorin, the weakest of villains, a 'famous author' in old shoes and checked trousers, jotting his thoughts in a notebook for fear of forgetting them, having all but lost the fight for his own soul; Nina, her pretty head filled with big artistic ideas.