I read Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard tonight, thinking it might be a possibility for my November trip to New York and Broadway. Joel Grey and John Glover are joining Diane Lane in a new production. But, I don't think so. I don't go to a show on Broadway just because of the stars in it. I go because I want to see the play. The Cherry Orchard isn't for me.
Have you read it? It's about a woman who returns to her family home in Russia, bringing her family with her. But, as much as she loves the house and the land, particularly the cherry orchard, she can't afford the taxes, and the property is going to go up for sale. A neighbor has a solution for her, but she's not practical, and she can't stand to see the orchard chopped down and the land turned into small tracts for houses.
Although the play has some ridiculous characters and odd moments, it deals with the end of the aristocracy in Russia, and the changes that came about after the end of serfdom. I'm not going to go see it.
But reading The Cherry Orchard brought back something I had forgotten. I've always credited my Mom with my love of theater. My hometown, Huron, Ohio, has the oldest continuously running summer theater in Ohio. And, when my sisters and I were young, they always ended the summer with a children's play - Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz. Mom would take us, and that's where we all learned to love theater.
It was only yesterday, though, that I remembered something else from my childhood. The public library carried a magazine called "Plays". I may have the details off a little because I'm remembering this from fifty years ago. I think it came out monthly. It contained plays that could be put on by schools, and it was broken down by different ages through high school. Usually, I would sit in the library with a pile of those, and read plays. Sometimes I would check some out. And, I would read the plays from beginning to end, no matter what level they were. Even then, I had a passion for plays.
It never really changed. We read Hamlet and Greek drama in high school, went to Cleveland to see Richard Chamberlain in Hamlet. My freshman year in college, I took History of Theater and Drama, taught by the Chair of Kent State's Drama Department. We had to read plays! We had to attend plays! My kind of requirement.
I still credit Mom with introducing us all to theater. But, I had forgotten that I found that passion early.
So, I was sidetracked. I read The Cherry Orchard last night. I'm not going to see it. But, as I sat and read the play, it brought back memories. Worth the time.
The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. A New Adaptation by Robert Brustein. American Repertory Theatre Series.