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shell pebble

Playing in the void

Five Plays: Ivanov, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard (Oxford World's Classics) - Anton Chekhov, Ronald Francis Hingley

Reading, as opposed to seeing Chekhov is quite a strange experience because of his impressionistic technique - nothing is explained, everything is surface, the opposite of the great classic novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky which are all psychology. There are motifs, as in poetry, which emerge or sink into the narrative. The dialogue is so ambiguous, so flexible, that the variety of interpretations that theatre companies can bring to the plays seems to be endless, judging from Anatoly Smeliansky's 2000 essay "Chekhov and the Moscow Art Theatre". Prevailing ideologies continuously transformed and shifted the mood and political content of Chekhov over the century in Russia. His subject is spiritual emptiness, vast empty space, like the Russian landscape itself. The meaning of that space must come from the actors.

As I've yet to see a Chekhov play, I can only admire this genius for creating a dramatic canvas to be filled...