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Three Sisters (2016)

Directed by Kevin Jackson

Written by Anton Chekhov

July 28, 2016 to August 13, 2016

Anton Chekhov wrote plays for Russia about Russia, and in the process proved that Russia is everywhere, in everything and everyone, and that life can be lived as thoroughly on the stage as it is off it, from its inconspicuous details to its most searing joys and traumas. He doesn’t so much provide a moral compass for each generation, as ask his characters – us – to look high and low for one we can follow, for a part of ourselves worth believing in.

Sport For Jove is thrilled to present a brand new Australian translation of one of theatre’s defining works, Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, written by the extraordinary Karen Vickery. Her inspired recreation of Chekhov’s vision for the Prozorov family is a brilliant, surprising, atmospheric and very complete portrait of the ordinary/extraordinary flux of human life and ebbing dreams that Chekhov brought to the theatre in 1900.

Working with Karen is director Kevin Jackson, fresh from a lifetime dedicated to Chekhov’s work. Together they have created an essential theatrical experience.
“This is one of the most significant pieces of work our little theatre company has attempted,” said Damien Ryan from SFJ, “and we are so excited by the rigour of the process, the energy in this incredible team, this remarkable new script, and the large and exceptionally talented cast Kevin has assembled. The intimacy of the Reginald Theatre, the depth and precision of the play and its devastating flares of emotion and spirit remind me of why we go to the theatre in the first place. We are very proud and excited by this ambitious project.”

The production is part of The Anton Project, a study over several months of Chekhov’s life and work, including Russian history, dance, writing, culture and even cooking that has drawn audiences and artists together throughout the year.

Don’t miss the result, a new Australian collaboration with one of Russia’s and the world’s most valued works of art.

Director's Note

Anton Chekhov's THREE SISTERS is my favourite play from the last century - it first appeared in 1901, at the Moscow Arts Theatre.

I have some 23 different translations of the play, including the Aubrey Mellor, Robert Dessaix 1988 version for Belvoir St. I invited Karen Vickery, a colleague, actor, teacher, writer, friend, a fluent Russian speaker, reader and writer to prepare a new translation. We had worked together before. I believe it is necessary that Australian audiences have a contemporary translation of the other language plays, if possible.

I was conceiving a production set in Russia (Perm), in 1901.There were to be no adaptations - just as accurate a translation for our contemporary Australian ears as possible. I wanted the actors to feel that we were creating a brand new Australian play. My principle instruction was that the syntax on the score of the text was as deliberate as she intended.

I auditioned some 167 actors in March, 2016. I was looking for actors that could Act! And that were, what I called, "Mad Actors" - actors of explorative courage. I had an embarrassment of riches to choose from - I thank all who came to see me. I could have cast the play many times over. All with a unique chemical possibility of exciting exploration. I chose carefully and tonight you will see the result. Our unique result. Sport For Jove gave me free rein as to whom I could work with. How lucky I have been. Sport For Jove are a marvel - Steven Tait, an absolutely amazing Production 'boss'.

I set up a series of lectures under the banner of THE ANTON PROJECT, for the general public. Speakers were Anthony Skuse (Anton Chekhov), Maria Lobytsnya (Late 19th century History Russia), Ken Healey (Music of he Russian society), Karen Vickery (Translation) and a Russian dance class by Wanda Wojtulewicz-Levine, which were held in March, April and May, 2016 at the Sport For Jove studios.

Influenced (all my life) by a long essay by Dr Jonathan Miller, SUBSEQUENT PERFORMANCES (1986), I wanted all the artists involved to approach the play as if it were an entirely new play. A new Australian play. We would immerse ourselves in the history of the play, the biography of the writer, the social, political and cultural history of the society that first cast this play into the world's consciousness, onto the stages of the world, and through our peculiar combined Australian 'lens' ,and interpretation of those elements, to create from our unique, personalised and 'learned' response to all those elements, to explore and discover our team's story for this great play. We have wrestled in detail, in our limited time, with this great work to find our way, and to make the play speak to you in 2016.

To attempt THREE SISTERS is, I believe, a theatrical equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, the highest 'peak' on the theatre landscape of endeavour - at least, for me.

We hope we have done well enough.

THREE SISTERS was Anton Chekhov's first play written, in 1901, especially for the Moscow Arts Theatre, run by Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovitch-Danchenko. Chekhov was, and is, famous for his Short Story writing - a must-read to appreciate what he was attempting in writing his plays. Chekhov was a doctor and had self-diagnosed his tuberculosis when he was in his late twenties. He, generally, ignored the prognosis.The disease had progressed quite savagely and he was hemorrhaging blood regularly whilst at the task of writing this play in Yalta. He also, incidentally, married Olga Knipper, a leading actor of the Moscow Arts Company, for whom he wrote the role of Masha, at the same time. He died in 1904, after completing his great comedy, THE CHERRY ORCHARD.

As I am particularly indebted to the writings of Orlando Figes, and his two great books: NATASHA'S DANCE and A PEOPLE'S TRAGEDY, to gain an insight into the world of Russia, I recommend them to you. Too, the writings of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche have informed the work we have undertaken.

Production Reviews

"...a rich, funny, poignant and fresh theatrical experience"

"The restlessness and emotional restraint demanded by Jackson draws out some finely shaded acting..."

"Sport For Jove has hit another six."

"...delivers wonderful amusing results."

"...see a classic in as true a form as possible"

Production Gallery

Photography by Marnya Rothe

  • Alexandra Kelly | Servant

  • Anthony Sadler | Servant / Soldier

  • Dorje Swallow | Solyony

  • Graeme McRae | Baron Tuzenbach

  • Janine Watson | Olga

  • John Grinston | Ferapont

  • Justin Stewart-Cotta | Vershinin

  • Kenneth Moraleda | Kulyghin

  • Lauren Richardson | Natasha

  • Lyn Pierse | Anfisa

  • Mariya Tkachenko | Servant

  • Matilda Brodie | Servant

  • Michael McStay | Fedotik

  • Noel Hodda | Chebutykin

  • Paige Gardiner | Masha

  • Richard Cotta | Servant

  • Shane Russon | Rode

  • Tamila Tkachenko | Servant

  • Tom Campbell | Andrey

  • Zoe Jensen | Irina

  • Aeva O'Dea | Stage Manager

  • Alexandra Kelly | Assistant Stage Manager

  • Angelika Nieweglowski | Set Design Assistant

  • Emma Vine | Costume Designer

  • Georgia Hopkins | Set Designer

  • Hanna Smith | Costume Design Assistant

  • Karen Vickery | Script Translation

  • Kevin Jackson | Director

  • Martin Kinnane | Lighting Designer

  • Peter Neville | Sound Designer

  • Suzanne Pereira | Assistant to Director

  • Wanda Wojtulewicz-Levine | Dance Choreography

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