PlayMakers Repertory, THREE SISTERS, 2016 Photo by Jon Gardiner

PlayMakers Repertory, THREE SISTERS, 2016
Photo by Jon Gardiner

Three Sisters

EXCERPT FROM THREE SISTERS, ACT I: 

 

OLGA
This is my brother, Andrey Sergeyich.

VERSHININ
Vershinin.

ANDREY
Prozorov. (He wipes sweat from his face.) You’re the new battery commander?

OLGA
Aleksandr Ignatyich is from Moscow.

ANDREY
Really? Well, congratulations, now my sisters will never leave you in peace.

VERSHININ
I’ve already succeeded in boring your sisters.

IRINA
Look, what a lovely frame Andrey gave me today! (She shows the frame.) He made it himself.

VERSHININ
(Looking at the frame and not knowing what to say.) Yes… that’s something… 

IRINA
And that frame on the piano, he made that too.

ANDREY waves his hand and walks away.

OLGA
He’s the scholar among us and he plays the violin, and he creates all kinds of wonderful things with his hands – in other words, he can do anything. Andrey, don’t leave! You’re always walking away. Come here!

MASHA and IRINA take him by the arms and with laughter lead him back.


Three Sisters, Act III, 1901

MASHA
Come, come!

ANDREY
Leave me alone, please.

MASHA
You’re so funny! Aleksandr Ignatyevich used to be called “Major Romeo”, and he wasn’t angry in the least.

VERSHININ
In the least!

MASHA
And I will have to call you: Professor Romeo!

IRINA
Or Maestro Romeo, the violinist!

OLGA
He’s in love! Andryusha is in love!

IRINA
(Applauding.) Bravo, bravo! Bis! Andryusha is in love!

CHEBUTYKIN
(Approaches ANDREY from behind and puts his arms around his waist.) We’ve been put on this earth for love alone! (He chuckles; he has a newspaper the entire time.)

ANDREY
Enough, enough… (He wipes his face.) I didn’t sleep all night and I’m really not myself today. I was reading until four, then I closed my eyes, but nothing happened. I couldn’t turn off my mind and suddenly it was dawn and the sun was pouring into my room. This summer, if I’m still here, I’d like to translate a book from English.

VERSHININ
Ah, you read English?

ANDREY
Yes. Father, God rest his soul, wore us down with education. It’s funny – even a little crazy – but the fact is, after he died I started to put on weight. I have put on so much weight that I feel my body is pushing out all that education. Thanks to our father my sisters and I know French, German and English, and Irina even knows Italian. —For all the good it does!

MASHA
What’s the point of knowing three languages around here? In truth, in this town, it’s a burden, like an extra finger.

VERSHININ
Ah, I see! (He laughs.) You know too much! If you ask me, no place on earth can exist without intelligent, educated people. For example, let’s take this town — let’s say that among the hundred thousand inhabitants — probably all backward and crude — there are only three like you. Obviously, you can’t conquer the stupidity around you all by yourselves, and it’s true that little by little you may lose some of your brilliance and become lost in the crowd – you may even feel as if you’re drowning – but you won’t disappear entirely, you’ll still have influence among these people. Then there will be six of you, maybe twenty, and so on, until finally, you will be the majority. In two hundred, three hundred years life on earth will be unimaginably beautiful, astounding. Of course, everyone wants such a life now and you must have faith that it will come. You must wait for it, dream about it, prepare for it. Undoubtedly you know more than your parents and your grandfather. (He laughs.) And you complain that you know too much!

MASHA
(She takes off her hat.) I’m staying for lunch.

IRINA
(With a sigh.) Really, we should have written all that down…

ANDREY has slipped out quietly.

TUZENBAKH
In many years you say life on earth will be beautiful, astounding. That’s true. But, in order to prepare for that life – though it may be in the far distant future – we need to do something now, we need to work…

VERSHININ
(He stands.) Yes. You have so many flowers here! (Looking around.) And your home is marvelous. I envy you! All my life I’ve been living in tiny apartments with two chairs, one sofa, and with stoves that are always smoking. Obviously what I’ve needed all my life are these lovely flowers!... (He rubs his hands.) Ekh! Well, that’s it!

TUZENBAKH
Yes, it’s necessary to work. No doubt, you’re probably thinking: the German is being romantic. But on my honor, I am Russian – I don’t even speak German. My father was Russian Orthodox…

Pause.

VERSHININ
(He walks about.) I often think if only we could start all over again and much more consciously this time. The life we’ve already lived can be a rough draft for what we would do the next time. Then there’s always the chance we wouldn’t repeat our mistakes – we could at least find a better place to live – a place filled with flowers, filled with light… I have a wife and two daughters. My poor wife is ill, yes, yes… Yes, if only we could start all over again – I surely wouldn’t get married…

Enter KULYGIN in a uniform.

KULYGIN
(He approaches IRINA.) Dear sister, permit me to congratulate you on your birthday. I sincerely wish from my soul good health and everything a young lady of your age wishes for herself. Permit me to present you with this book. (He gives her a book.) The history of our high school over the past fifty years, written by yours truly. A trifling little book, written when I had nothing better to do, but I hope you will read it nonetheless. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! (To VERSHININ.) Kulygin, a teacher at the local high school. Civil servant, 7th class! (To IRINA.) In this book you will find a list of all those who graduated from our high school in the past fifty years. Feci quod potui, faciant meliora potentes. [“I did what I could; let he who can, do better.”] (He kisses MASHA.

IRINA
You already gave me this book for Easter.

KULYGIN
(He laughs.) Impossible! In that case, give it back, or better yet give it to the colonel. Please accept it, colonel. Read it sometime when you have nothing better to do.


Three Sisters, Act IV, 1901

Excerpt from Three Sisters, Act IV: 

CHEBUTYKHIN
Olga Sergeyevna!

OLGA
What?

Pause.

CHEBUTYKHIN
Nothing… I don’t know how to tell you… (He whispers in her ear.)

OLGA
(In fright.). It can’t be!

CHEBUTYKHIN
Yes… unbelievable… I’m tired, I’m worn out, I don’t want to say another word… (Vexedly.) It doesn’t mean a thing…

MASHA
What happened?

OLGA
(She embraces IRINA.) Today is so horrible… I don’t know how to tell you, my dear…

IRINA
What? Tell me quickly: what? For God’s sake! (She cries.)

CHEBUTYKHIN
The baron was just killed in a duel.

IRINA
I knew it, I knew it…

CHEBUTYKHIN
(He takes a seat on a bench upstage.) I’m so tired… (He takes a newspaper from his pocket.) Let them weep… (He quietly sings.) Ta-ra-ra-bumbiya… sit in the dirt I may… It doesn’t matter…

The three sisters stand, holding one another.

MASHA
Listen to the music! They’re leaving us – we’re alone – they’re gone forever and we’re alone. We must start over again – we have to go on living… We must live… Yes, we have to…

IRINA
(She puts her head on OLGA’s breast.) There’ll be a time when we’ll understand why we had to suffer so much – all the mysteries will be revealed – but in the meantime, we have to live… work, only work! Tomorrow I’ll go alone, I’ll teach in that school and I’ll devote my whole life to people who need me. It’s fall already – winter will come soon, and everything will be covered with snow – but I’ll work, I’ll work…

OLGA
(She embraces both her sisters.) The music is so happy, cheerful. Oh yes, I want to live! Oh, my god! The day will come when we’re gone forever too – and they’ll have forgotten us – our faces, our voices – all forgotten – and they won’t even remember there were three of us – but what we suffered will become joy for them – for all those who live after us. Happiness and peace will at last come to the earth, and they’ll speak well of us and bless those of us who are living now. Oh, sweet sisters, our life is not finished yet. We’ll live! The music is so happy, so joyous, and I can imagine that in just a moment more, we’ll know why we’re living, why we’re suffering… If we only knew, if we only knew! 

The music grows more distant; KULYGIN, happy, smiling, carries MASHA’s hat and wrap. ANDREY pushes another carriage, with BOBIK sitting in it.

CHEBUTYKHIN
(He sings quietly.) Tara… ra… bumbiya… sit in the dirt I may… (He reads the paper.) It doesn’t mean a thing – not a thing…

OLGA
If we only knew – if we only knew…

Curtain.