Theater Emory presents three original adaptations of short stories by master storyteller, Anton Chekhov, in "Watching Chekhov Watching," February 14-24 in the Theater Lab of Emory's Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The production features two live theater pieces and one short film adapted and directed by members of the Emory community with casts featuring professional and student actors.
Chekhov stared at humanity with a physician's eye, writing mesmerizing tales of daily life and the absurd complexities of human impulse. These complexities are made solid and transferred to the stage through variant methods and approaches to storytelling. "Watching Chekhov Watching" features widely varied adaptations, from experimental to traditional, with some staying true to the text and others creating entirely new dialogue and even including forms of audience participation.
Theater Emory resident dramaturg and professor Michael Evenden, adapts and directs "In the Ravine," one of Chekhov's most accomplished stories, describing the downfall of a wealthy rural family, using a variety of performance modes: highly theatricalized treatments of certain scenes, simple realistic passages, oral narratives, and even some passages projected and read as text. This treatment separates out the interwoven strands of gossip, the novel, high melodrama, and naturalistic theater that make up Chekhov's art and weigh them against each other.
"Antosha Chekhonte: A Childhood Suite," adapted and directed by Lisa Paulsen, senior lecturer and director of Emory's Playwriting Center, is a collection of five short pieces about children taken from Chekhov's early stories, when he was writing as Antosha Chekhonte. As with "In the Ravine," Paulsen and her cast employ a wide range of theatrical strategies to bring Chekhov's more experimental fiction to the stage.
Finally, an untitled film project adapted by Emory alum, Nicholas Surbey, and directed by Emory film student, Nikoloz Kevkishvili, presents a contemporary retelling of two stories, "Boys" and "A Joke." Using the basic framework of these stories, the film transports Chekhov's intriguing scenarios and powerful observations into the setting of a single American household.
Performances of "Watching Chekhov Watching" are February 14-16 and 20-23 at 7 p.m. and November 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. in the Theater Lab of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are $18 general admission, $14 discount category members, $6 Emory students and available at the Arts at Emory box office at 404-727-5050 or www.arts.emory.edu. For more information visit www.theater.emory.edu.
Theater Emory is the producing organization of Emory University and is affiliated with the Department of Theater and Dance. It is a member of the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts and operates under a season agreement with Actors" Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.
Photo courtesy of Theater Emory