Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard is clearly ‘about’ the end of one social order – about time changing and time static. Yet different interpretive communities – academics in journal articles and students in their classrooms, newspaper reviewers, theatre writers like Trevor Griffiths and David Mamet, and theatre directors like Adrian Noble and Richard Eyre – ‘read’ Chekhov's representation of history and class change in different ways. The authors of this study have been exploring these different reading formations in a three-year project funded by the Australian Research Council, ‘Chekhov: in Criticism, Performance, and Reading’. Here – grounding their work in industry ‘readings’ via production study and interviews – they focus on production and performance of The Cherry Orchard, contrasting the Richard Eyre/Trevor Griffiths production of 1977 (reproduced in 1981 for BBC TV) with Adrian Noble's production at the Swan Theatre, Stratford, in 1995. In particular, they discuss the writing, directing, acting, and staging of Chekhov's ‘modernity’ in these productions, suggesting that whereas Noble referenced and yet simultaneously occluded class in his rehearsal style and staging, Griffiths and Eyre worked for a production which not only embodied the intra-class mobility of the Thatcher era in 1981, but also the ‘then’ of Chekhov's own particular engagement with modernity and environment. John Tulloch, Professor of Cultural Studies at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, is author of Chekhov: a Structuralist Study. Tom Burvill is Associate Professor of Drama and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney, where Andrew Hood is a PhD student working on reception cultures.