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‘Thinking with Chekhov’: the Evidence of Stanislavsky's Notebooks

  • Jovan Hristić

Abstract

In the second and third volumes of the Russian edition of Stanislavsky's notebooks, Rezhisserskie Egzemplary (Moscow, 1981 and 1983), are to be found Stanislavsky's own notes on his productions of Chekhov's plays for the Moscow Art Theatre – The Seagull, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard. Questioning the received wisdom that in many ways his first director served Chekhov ill, with over-elaborate productions which failed to bring out the humour and ambiguity of the plays, Jovan Hristić here draws deeply upon the notebooks to contrast their instructions and descriptions with the directions and stated or presumed intentions of Chekhov himself. He illuminatingly reveals that, while some of Stanislavsky's solutions understandably appear over-the-top to more minimalist modern tastes, they are almost invariably complementary rather than contradictory to Chekhov, and designed to serve the plays rather than to subject them to directorial whim.

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