Anton Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’ staged in Northeastern University
Three Sisters is a play by the Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov. It was written in the year 1900 and first performed in 1901 at the Moscow Art Theatre. Acclaimed Russian director Igor Golyak mused that perhaps the Russian capital should be turned into a living, breathing character in Northeastern University’s performance of the play Three Sisters. He brought several such unconventional ideas to his direction of the Northeastern’s Department of Theatre’s performance. However, the challenge was one his student-actors had to figure out. Golyak needed all the students to be active participants. He was interested in having them be co-collaborators.
The play tells the story of a family living in rural, 19th-century Russia. Each member of the family is burdened by their unrealised dreams and their longing to return to the happiness of childhood in Moscow. Golyak was asking the actors to bring in their life experiences to their performance. He said “Their current and contemporary take on life brings a unique element to this production. I’m asking them to find ways to express themes that are 120 years old in today’s world”. That’s how a play written in the year 1900 came to include “confetti cannons, Jiffy Pop, Hula Hoops, and playing piano with your feet,” says Kate Franklin, a Northeastern student studying theatre who plays Staff Captain Vassily Vasilyevich Solyony.
In Chekhov’s play, Moscow is mentioned frequently, and the idea of transforming the city into a physical character came to Golyak in a dream. The set design, too, is unexpected. Nastya Bugaeva, who has also worked on projects with the Moscow Art Theatre, envisioned the characters trapped inside a candy wrapper, unable to escape. Bugaeva designed the set around this concept.