CHERRY ORCHARD, OSF, 2007 Photo Credit: Jenny Graham

Photo Credit: Jenny Graham


The beauty of Chekhov’s plays is the utter simplicity with which he tells his stories and yet the depth to which he plunges inside the characters’ souls.  He is a playwright, like Shakespeare, who completely understands the human condition and he never judges his characters nor does he hesitate to explore their foolishness and idiosyncrasies.  His intention is show people as they are and how they interrelate with one another. And as in life, these interactions can be heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time.
Chekhov’s plays are able to be produced on any kind of stage.  They have an epic quality, allowing us to see a whole society – usually in a state of collapse— and so a large proscenium stage works well for them.  But they are also uncommonly intimate—letting us see the minutest gesture which leads to profoundly understanding the human heart. A small studio space works perfectly as well.  These plays can be done proscenium, three-quarter round or in the round.

While the plays were originally produced with full and realistic settings for each of the acts, that practice has been long out of fashion today.  Indeed, the plays can be done with the most minimal of sets and props with very few changes per act.  A bare floor, a piano and a swing could actually say it all!