Requiem

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Five stories adapted for the stage by Paul Caister from translations by Rosamund Bartlett
 
 
12th Sept – 6th Oct
 
Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm
Sunday Matinees 4pm
Saturday Matinees 29th September & 6th October 4pm

ANTON CHEKHOV (1860-1904) wrote 588 short stories, nearly 400 of which were completed in the first 5 years of his career (which began when he was 20). At the rate of nearly two per week he submitted texts to various magazines and newspapers, changing his style to suit the readership, and using pseudonyms. His motive was to earn money for his impoverished parents and siblings. The payments were so small he had no choice but to be prolific. He was a full time medical student from 1879 to 1884 and usually completed a story the day he started it. When success came the pay increased and the quantity of his output lessened. Of the early stories only 30% were included by Chekhov in his collected works, published in 1900, and nothing that he wrote in the first 2 years was retained. It is hard to argue against the suggestion that the astonishing discipline and rigour of the early years led directly to the genius that emerged later, both as the greatest playwright since Shakespeare and also, according to Somerset Maugham, Katherine Mansfield and others, the greatest ever writer of short stories. In the introduction to her translation of About Love and Other Stories Rosamund Bartlett writes that Chekhov “ranged more widely than any Russian writer before him had in terms of subject matter. His upbringing in Taganrog gave him an unparalleled insight into Russian provincial towns … his pious family background provided him with an intimate knowledge of the Russian Orthodox Church … his medical practice brought him into contact with a huge cross-section of the Russian population, whose poorer members he could identify with because of his own humble origins. His life as a small-time landowner acquainted him intimately with rural life. His education bought him him an entree into the upper sections of Russian society … His literary and dramatic talent, meanwhile, brought him into Russia’s artistic world. This … is reflected in the pages of Chekhov’s stories, whose characters range from priests and schoolboys to peasant wives and princesses”.

PAUL CAISTER trained as an actor at The Bristol Old Vic and then spent 5 years acting, writing and directing in Australia. He founded The Poor School in 1986 and was director until its closure in 2018.

ROSAMUND BARTLETT is the author of a biography, Chekhov: Scenes from a Life, and the translator of two Chekhov anthologies, About Love and Other Stories, and The Exclamation Mark. She is also the editor and co-translator of Chekhov: A Life in Letters, the first unexpurgated edition in any language, and has written many articles on the musicality of Chekhov’s prose. In 2008 she set up a campaign to help preserve Chekhov’s dacha in Yalta, remains a trustee of the Anton Chekhov Foundation, a UK-based charity, and in 2010 was awarded the Chekhov 150th Anniversary medal by the Russian Ministry of Culture.

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