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On this date in theatre history… January 17, 1904…

Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard opens for its premiere performance at the Moscow Art Theatre.

Anton Chekhov - May 5, 1889

Interior of the Old MAT in Kamergersky Lane, originally Lianozov Theatre, as rebuilt in 1900-1903

Chekhov’s last play was intended as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, theatre director (and actor) Constantin Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy… and what Constantin wanted… Constantin usually got.  Since the play’s initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of The Cherry Orchard.

The Cherry Orchard presents themes of cultural futility — the futility of the aristocracy to maintain its status in the socio-economic forces at work in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, and the futility of the bourgeoisie to find meaning in its newfound materialism.

Konstantin Stanislavski as Leonid Gayev in a production of The Cherry Orchard at the Moscow Art Theatre

The Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre today

Chekhov Birthhouse

(Image attributed to Alexandre Mirgorodskiy)

(Except as noted, all images are in the public domain, as either ‘fair use’ or because the copyright has expired)

For more information on Anton Chekhov and the Moscow Art Theatre, please visit – 
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