A. Chekhov - the Cherry Orchard Commentary

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The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov 's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play.
The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family 's estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. While presented with options to save the estate, the family essentially does nothing and the play ends with the estate
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Chekhov was apparently delighted with the very sound of the title, and enjoyed the same sense of triumph months later when he finally revealed it to Stanislavski. By October 1903 the play was finished and sent to the Moscow Art Theater. Three weeks later Chekhov arrived at rehearsals in what would be a vain attempt to curb all the "weepiness" from the play which Stanislavski had developed. The author apparently also snickered when, during rehearsals, the word "orchard" was replaced with the more practical "plantation", feeling he had perfectly and symbolically captured the impracticality of an entire way of life.


Act I

Act I opens in the early morning hours of a day in May in the nursery of Madame Ranevskaya 's ancestral estate somewhere in the provinces of Russia just after the turn of the 20th Century. Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya returns to her country house with her 17-year old daughter Anya and her German governess Charlotta Ivanovna, as well as her valet, Yasha, from Paris where they have been living for the past five years. The trio is met by Varya, Mme. Ranevskaya 's adopted daughter who has overseen the estate in her absence; Yermolai Alexeevich Lopakhin, a local merchant and family friend; Leonid Andreevich Gayev, Mme. Ranevskaya 's brother; as well as members of the household staff including Dunyasha, the chambermaid who behaves like a refined lady; Semyon Yepikhodov a clumsy clerk in the

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