Chekhov Essays

Episodes

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01Simon Russell Beale2010012520101101

Simon Russell Beale, who is amongst the most distinguished and popular actors on the British stage, reveals what he has learned from Chekhov in terms of theatre-craft.

After Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov is the most performed playwright in the world and amongst the most revered writers of short stories.

While the pleasure he has given to theatre audiences and readers is immense, these Essays explore his legacy in terms of the craft and technique that he continues to bequeath to theatre practitioners and writers today.

In the first of five programmes celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Chekhov's birth, the hugely popular actor Simon Russell Beale confides how the opportunity to perform in The Seagull with the Royal Shakespeare Company twenty five years ago, transformed his entire career.

"I can't pretend to know precisely what my new employers saw in me, but I suspect that they wanted to use me, at least initially, as a comic actor - or as a young character actor, to use the old terminology.

This was not unexpected.

I could not imagine myself, even in my most self-deluded moments, as Lysander or Romeo or Sebastian....And then Terry Hands, the Artistic Director at the time, cast me as Konstantin in The Seagull by Anton Chekhov....".

Simon Russell Beale on how performing in Chekhov's The Seagull changed his entire career.

Simon Russell Beale, who is amongst the most distinguished and popular actors on the British stage, reveals what he has learned from Chehov in terms of theatre-craft.

After Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov is the most perfomed playwright in the world and amongst the most revered writers of short stories.

I can't pretend to know precisely what my new employers saw in me, but I suspect that they wanted to use me, at least initially, as a comic actor - or as a young character actor, to use the old terminology.

I could not imagine myself, even in my most self-deluded moments, as Lysander or Romeo or Sebastian....And then Terry Hands, the Artistic Director at the time, cast me as Konstantin in The Seagull by Anton Chekhov....".

02Timberlake Wertenbaker2010012620101102

The playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker writes a love letter to Chekhov to thank him for all that he has taught her in terms of theatre-craft.

After Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov is the most perfomed playwright in the world and amongst the most revered writers of short stories.

While the pleasure he has given to theatre audiences and readers is immense, these Essays explore his legacy in terms of the craft and technique that he continues to bequeath to theatre practitioners and writers today.

From her best known work, Our Country's Good, to her latest play, The Line, Timberlake Wertenbaker is one of our most highly valued contemporary playwrights.

Chekhov is her favourite writer, and in this Essay - couched as a love letter - she reflects on what she has learned from him in terms of theatre-craft.

Timberlake Wertenbaker on what she has learned from Chekhov in terms of theatre craft.

03Andrew Hilton2010012720101103

The director Andrew Hilton reveals what he has learned as a director from Chekhov.

After Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov is the most perfomed playwright in the world and amongst the most revered writers of short stories.

While the pleasure he has given to theatre audiences and readers is immense, these Essays explore his legacy in terms of the craft and technique that he continues to bequeath to theatre practitioners and writers today.

In the third of five programmes celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Chekhov's birth, the director Andrew Hilton reveals the lesson that he learned while recently directing a highly acclaimed production of Uncle Vanya at Bristol Old Vic - that Chekhov's plays contain all the instructions any company needs, if only they will listen.

Andrew Hilton reveals the lesson he learned while directing Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

04Ruth Thomas2010012820101104

The short story writer Ruth Thomas confesses how her early ignorance and dislike of Chekhov turned later to love as she came to emulate his loving depictions of domestic life.

After Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov is the most perfomed playwright in the world and amongst the most revered writers of short stories.

While the pleasure he has given to theatre audiences and readers is immense, these Essays explore his legacy in terms of the craft and technique that he continues to bequeath to theatre practitioners and writers today.

In the fourth of five programmes celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Chekhov's birth, the novelist and short story writer Ruth Thomas tells the true tale of how a missing cat in a misty cherry orchard started a life long interest in the life and work of Chekhov.

Young short story writer Ruth Thomas explains how she came to love Chekhov's work.

05 LASTXiaolu Guo2010012920101105

Novelist, short story writer and film-maker Xiaolu Guo, reflects her personal debt to Chekhov in a Chekhovian short story of her own.

The novelist, short story writer and film-maker Xiaolu Guo was born in a fishing village in south China.

Now resident in London, she makes unexpected connections between the lives of the Chinese peasants of her childhood and the lives of the Russian peasants as depicted by Chekhov in his short stories.

In a new short story in which she imagines herself travelling as Chekhov himself to the prison island of Sakhalin, she pays tribute to all she has learned from Chekhov in his deeply humane depiction of peasant life in a bitter winter landscape.

Chinese writer and film-maker Xiaolu Guo reflects on her personal debt to Chekhov.