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Three Farces & A Funeral

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Discover Chekhov as you’ve never known him before—the brash young playwright who made his fame and fortune with sparkling vaudevilles that brilliantly lampooned conventional society. Robert Brustein has taken three of his most popular comedies and linked them with excerpts from the playwright’s poignant, romantic love letters and scenes from his life. You’ll laugh in recognition at the age-old rituals of love, courtship, and marriage in this effervescent flight of farces.

SYNOPSIS

The playwright Anton Chekhov is in the Crimean seaside resort of Yalta, attempting to recover from consumption. He exchanges frequent letters with his wife, the actress Olga Knipper, who is performing in his plays at the Moscow Art Theatre.

Anton and Olga keep their spirits up with gossip, reminiscences of happier days, and with the thought of their planned meeting in the summer. Their thoughts frequently turn to love and marriage, and Anton is reminded of the matrimonial farces he wrote as a young man. As his imagination takes flight, three of these farces materialize on stage.

In The Proposal, a nervous young landowner has come to propose marriage to his neighbor’s daughter. No sooner does he summon up the courage to ask her, though, than they begin to argue about property rights, and their squabbling threatens to destroy their chances of a match.

The Bear tells of a wealthy heiress, recently widowed, who receives an unwelcome visit from a landowner to whom her late husband was in debt. Their social pleasantries quickly descend into a fierce quarrel, and before he knows it, the landowner has challenged the widow to a duel.

The Wedding takes place at the marriage feast of Aplombov and his bride Dasha. A group of eccentrics has gathered for the party, and their squabbles quickly reduce the celebration into pandemonium.

Anton’s health, meanwhile, has deteriorated, and his doctors move him to a spa in northern Germany, where Olga hurries to join him.

Credits

Creative team

Adapted from the life and works of Anton Chekhov by

Robert Brustein

Adapted from the life and works of Anton Chekhov by

Robert Brustein

As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theaters, Robert Brustein has supervised well over two hundred productions, acting in eight and directing twelve.  He has written eleven adaptations for the American Repertory Theater and is the author of thirteen books on theater and society. His latest book, The Tainted Muse: Prejudices and Preconceptions in Shakespeare's Works and Times, was released earlier this year. Mr. Brustein also served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University and drama critic for The New Republic. He is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient numerous awards including the George Polk Award in Journalism, the Commonweath (Massachusetts) Award for Organizational Leadership, and most recently the Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction.

His Six Characters in Search of an Author won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996. His play Demons, which was broadcast on WGBH radio in 1993, had its stage world premiere as part of the A.R.T. New Stages. His play Nobody Dies on Friday was given its world premiere in the same series and was presented at the Singapore Festival of Arts and the Pushkin Theatre in Moscow. His play Spring Forward, Fall Back was performed in 2006 at Theater J in Washington, D.C., and at the Vineyard Playhouse. His newest play, The English Channel, was produced in 2007 in Boston and at the Vineyard Playhouse. In the Fall of 2008, it played at the Abingdon Theatre in New York where it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Brustein also wrote Shlemiel the First, based on the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and set to traditional klezmer music, which was directed and choreographed by David Gordon. After the original presentation in 1994 at ART and in Philadelphia at the American Music Theatre Festival, which co-produced the show, Shlemiel the First was revived several times in Cambridge and subsequently played at the Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival, the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, as well as touring theatres in Florida and in Stamford, Connecticut. The play has also been produced at Theater J in Washington, DC. Shlemiel the First comes to Peak Performances @ Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, in January 2010.  His short plays Poker Face, Chekhov on Ice, Divestiture, AnchorBimbo, Noises, Terrorist Skit, Airport Hell, Beachman’s Last Poetry Reading, and Enter William Shakespeare were all presented by the Boston Playwrights' Theatre.  Brustein is also the author of Doctor Hippocrates is Out: Please Leave a Message, an anthology of theatrical and cinematic satire on medicine and physicians, commissioned by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for its 2008 convention in Nashville.  He was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002.

Brustein is a former professor of English at Harvard University (now a Senior Research Fellow), Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University in Boston, the drama critic for The New Republic, and former dean of the Yale School of Drama. In 2003 he served as a Senior Fellow with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, and in 2004 and 2005 was a senior fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts' Arts Journalism Institute in Theatre and Musical Theatre at the University of Southern California

He was the founding director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and the American Repertory Theater and served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, where he founded the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He retired from the artistic directorship of ART in 2002 and now serves as Founding Director and Creative Consultant. He is also a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and the Open University.

During his tenure at ART, Brustein wrote eleven adaptations, including Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck, The Master Builder, and When We Dead Awaken, the last directed by Robert Wilson; Three Farces and a Funeral, adapted from the works and life of Anton Chekhov; Luigi Pirandello's Enrico IV; and Brustein's final production at ART, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, directed by Andrei Serban.  He also directed numerous adaptations while at ART including a Pirandello trilogy: Six Characters in Search of an Author, which won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996, Right You Are (If You Think You Are); Tonight We Improvise; Ibsen's Ghosts, Strindberg's The Father, and Thomas Middleton's The Changeling.

Over the course of his long career as director, playwright, and teacher, he has participated in the artistic development of such theater artists as Meryl Streep, Christopher Durang, Christopher Walken, Cherry Jones, Ted Talley, Michael Feingold, Sigourney Weaver, James Naughton, Mark Linn-Baker, Henry Winkler, James Lapine, Tony Shalhoub, Tommy Derrah, Rocco Landesman, Linda Lavin, Michael Yearga, William Ivey Long, Derek Maclane, Steve Zahn, Peter Sellars, Santo Loquasto, Tom Moore, Albert Innaurato, and many others.

Mr. Brustein is the recipient of many coveted awards, including:

  • Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Nottingham
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
  • Twice winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism
  • George Polk Award for Journalism (Criticism)
  • The 2nd Elliot Norton Award For Professional Excellence in Boston Theatre (formerly the Norton Prize), presented by the Boston Theatre District Associatione
  • New England Theatre Conference's Major Award for outstanding creative achievement in the American theatre
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts
  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education Career Achievement Award for Professional Theatre
  • The Commonwealth Award for Organizational Leadership
  • Inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame
  • United States Institute for Theatre Technology Lifetime Achievement Award
  • National Corporate Theatre Fund Chairman's Award for Achievement in Theatre
  • Gann Academy Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts
  • Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction

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Directed by

Yuri Yeremin

Directed by

Yuri Yeremin

Yuri Yeremin is the director of Three Farces and a Funeral and Ivanov and acting/directing instructor in the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.  Mr. Yeremin is one Russia's leading directors and master teachers of acting and directing. As Artistic Director of the Central Soviet Army Theatre (1981–1987) and current Artistic Director of Moscow Pushkin Theatre (since 1987), he has directed a number of productions, including The Idiot and The Possessed by Dostoevsky, The Old Man by Gorky, Ward No. 6 by Chekhov, The Inspector General by Gogol, Madame Bovary by Flaubert, and Paper Nickelodeon by Chervinsky. His production of Ward No. 6 has toured extensively all through Europe, the United States, and Canada and was a part of the New York International Theatre Festival. Mr. Yeremin has directed and lectured throughout Europe and the United States, where he directed at the Hartford Stage Company and participated in the O'Neill Theatre Center Program in Waterford, Connecticut. His 1997 production of Shelter—based on Gorky's Lower Depths—at the American Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre was regarded among the best productions of the season. He is the recipient of several high awards for artistic excellence, including Russian and French decorations and the title of People's Artist of Russia.

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Set design by

Riccardo Hernandez

Riccardo Hernandez

Set design by

Riccardo Hernandez

A.R.T.: Over twenty productions, including most recently, Jagged Little PillThe White Card, Arrabal, Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Prometheus Bound, Best of Both Worlds, The Seagull, Julius Caesar, Britannicus, and Marat/Sade. Broadway: Indecent, The Gin Game; The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess; The People in the Picture; Caroline, or Change, National Theatre London; Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, Old Vic; Topdog/Underdog, Royal Court; Bells Are Ringing; Parade (directed by Hal Prince, Tony, Drama Desk nominations); Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, The Tempest. Recent productions include: The Skin of Our Teeth, TFANA; The Invisible Hand (Henry Hewes Design Award); Red Speedo (Drama Desk Nomination); Grounded (directed by Julie Taymor). International: Théâtre du Châtelet, Avignon (Cour d’honneur Palais des Papes); Oslo, National Theatre; Abbey Theatre. Recipient, Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design. Hernandez is on the faculty at Yale School of Drama.

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Lighting Design

John Ambrosone

Lighting Design

John Ambrosone

Lighting Designer John Ambrosone has designed over thirty productions for the American Repertory Theater, including Lysistrata, Absolution, Marat/Sade, Othello, Animals and Plants, Mother Courage (2001 Elliot Norton Design Award), The Doctor's Dilemma, Three Farces and a Funeral, Nocturne, IvanovThe Cripple of Inishmaan, The King Stag, Boston Marriage, Charlie in the House of Rue, Valparaiso, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, How I Learned to Drive, Nobody Dies on Friday, Man and Superman, The Old Neighborhood, When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable), Alice in Bed, Slaughter City, and Buried Child. On Broadway he designed The Old Neighborhood. Work in resident theaters includes the Alley Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Walnut Street Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, and Arena Stage. Mr. Ambrosone also has designed in Singapore, Moscow, Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, Mexico, Germany, and France.

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Sound design by

David Remedios

Sound design by

David Remedios

Sound designs by David Remedios have been heard in Sexual Perversity in Chicago/The Duck Variations, Romance, Trojan Barbie, Endgame, The Seagull, The Communist Dracula Pageant, Let Me Down Easy, When It’s Hot It’s Cole, Cardenio, Julius Caesar, Copenhagen, Donnie Darko, A Marvelous Party, No Man's Land, Oliver Twist, Britannicus, The Onion Cellar, The Island of SlavesOrpheus X, Romeo and Juliet, No Exit, Three Sisters (2005), The Keening, Amerika, Olly's Prison, Desire Under the Elms, Dido Queen of Carthage, The Provok'd Wife (original music and sound), The Miser, A Midsummer Night's Dream (2003), Snow in June, Lady with a Lapdog, The Sound of a Voice, Pericles, Highway Ulysses, Uncle Vanya, Lysistrata, Absolution, Marat/Sade, Stone Cold Dead Serious, Enrico IV, Othello, Animals and Plants, The Doctor's Dilemma, Mother Courage and Her Children, Three Farces and a Funeral, Antigone, Nocturne, How I Learned to Drive, and Man and Superman. He has also toured regionally and internationally with the A.R.T.  Other credits include Farragut North and Yankee Tavern (Contemporary American Theater Festival), The Merchant of Venice (Actor’s Shakespeare Project), Ah, Wilderness! (CenterStage Baltimore), The Diary of Anne Frank (New Rep), The Scottish Play (La Jolla Playhouse), Leap (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Daughter of Venus, Action Jesus and Dressed Up! Wigged Out! (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), Sideways Stories from Wayside School, All of a Kind Family and The Fabulous Invalid (Emerson Stage), Samson Agonistes (92nd St. Y), Our Town (Boston Theatre Works), Far East (Vineyard Playhouse), Only You (Efron Entertainment). Dance soundscapes include works for Concord Academy Dance, Snappy Dance Theater Company, and Lorraine Chapman.  Awards: 2007 Connecticut Critics Circle Award (No Exit, Hartford Stage), 2001 Elliot Norton Award (Mother Courage and Her Children, A.R.T.), seven Independent Reviewers of New England Award nominations.

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The Proposal
Stephen Chubukov, a landowner Jeremy Geidt
Natasha, his daughter Mirjana Jokovic
Ivan Lomov, Chubukov’s landowning neighbor Jeremiah Kissel
Vanya, a groom Tim Kang
Masha, a housekeeper Sarah Isenberg
Tracker, Lomov’s dog Gerardo Rodriguez
Treasure, Chubukov’s dog Jennifer Black
The Bear
Madam Yelena Popov, a widow Karen MacDonald, Myriam Cyr, Roslyn S. Ruff, Jennifer Black, Frances Chewning, Sarah Isenberg, Anne Goldfeld
Gregory Smirnov Will Lebow, Ken Cheeseman, Trey Burvant, Gerardo Rodriguez, Tim Kang, Douglass Bowen Flynn, Gladdy Matteosian
Luka, Madam Popov’s manservant Remo Airaldi
The Wedding
Yevdokim Gonov, a minor civil servant Will LeBow
Nastasya, his wife Karen MacDonald
Masha, their daughter Frances Chewning
Epaminondas Pomponov, her fiance Remo Airaldi
Andryusha Dribbelov, town clerk Gerardo Rodriguez
Mrs. Anna Snakina Myriam Cyr, Roslyn S. Ruff, Jennifer Black
Ivan Yatz,  telegraph clerk Ken Cheeseman
Kharlampy Marshmallopolis, a Greek Tim Kang
Dmitry Marinin, a sailor Trey Burvant
Master of Ceremonies Douglass Bowen Flynn
1st Lady Sarah Isenberg
2nd Lady Anne Goldfeld
3rd Lady Gladdy Matteosian
Fyodor Nautikin-Keelov Alvin Epstein
Chekhov on Ice
Anton Chekhov Jeremiah Kissel
Olga Knipper Mirjana Jokovic
Doctor Schwoerer Jeremy Geidt
Man in Black Misha Aster, Darrin Browne