2009 : ... 2008 directing class for midterm?

2.22.08 lesson :

I. Playwright

II. Play

III. Scene

IV. Characters

1. Themes

2. Motifs

3. Images

4 Set/Prop/Costumes

5. ...

* Sound design

* Lighting ideas


Shows * 3 Sisters *

My side-notes are intended for directors, as a part of Scene Study.

After you read the whole play, reread this scene. Read Character pages in 3sis directory. Print them all.


M. Chekhov -- Acting One: Fundamentals
Four by Chekhov:

The Seagull

Three Sisters

The Cherry Orchard

Uncle Vanya

"Small Chekhov":

Wedding & More


Virtual 3 Sisters

Russian & Soviet Theatre (Rudnitzki) *


Scene & Chatacter analysis (dramaturgy)
chekhov pages @ vtheatre


Letters of Anton Chekhov to his family and friends -- With a Biographical Sketch, Translated by Constance Garnett * eBooks@Adelaide 2004 Theatre Theory Pages
UAF 2005 (Chekhov one acts) Costumes by Tara Maginnis *

What do you think about the goal of Chekhov to put the three of them finally together? He even added Natasha's appearance in the darkness to emphasize the upcoming climax and the catastrophe.

In order for you to put this scene together, you have to take it apart first. Separate the characters and examine where each of them at this point. We know that Baron would be killed and acceptance him by Irina is irrelavant, she missed it, and maybe now is to die because of it. Her rejection of Solyony, with whom she is love, but fears the strong attraction to him -- he kills Baron as a result. She is broken because she broke the hearts and now live of two men, who love her. Here is the Chekhov's define irony over his heroes' calling for love.

What about Masha? Her love affair with Vershinin is to end. She doesn't love her husband, who is she in love? Maybe with herself?

Olga, who is pushed out by the mistress of the house, Natasha, was serving as a mother and father for three siblings, now to end her live virgin. In my reading she in love with Vershinin, but yelled him to Masha, as she always did. What is the result of her sacrifice for the family.

All Prosorovs are lost and destroyed.

Now, how do we express it?

Once again. The big picture and the small details. Remember the lesson on acting areas? Each character must have his or her spot. Where and when do they come together to "their" are? The big long dinner table is the family place, but when there was a family, i.e. with the friends and at happy times. There was a small sofa (loveseat size), where Masha already read her books (the same book), she doesn't live here anymore, but spends most of her time. I wanted to sqiz the three of them in one small place, so they will look like lost children. I left the spot lights on all platforms to make the effect of empty house stronger.

Now, back to overall dramatic composition of the scene. Where is the climax? Where are the climatic moments for each sister? Look at their monologues. Especially for Masha's confession (as if they don't know about her and Vershinin?) She confesses when she lost her love for him, the confession is her attempt to talk herself into what is gone. In fact, this is the resolution opf the scene. Nobody replay, they know that she lost her hope for love too.

I also asked Natasha to show up first without them seeing her -- and then to walk through with the candle to show them who is in charge now. (Motivation, remember?) It gave them the sense of being not in their own house, so they changed the level, whispering and forgetting about it. And Natasha walk through was extended, she "fixes things" -- re-arranging the table, taking things with her, killing the candle on the piano.

When they are together, there are several stages (positions) before they get to final composition with Irina on the floor at Olga's feet, who tries to fix her hair, like mother -- and Masha standing behind them. Why this way? I thought that the three levels would hold them as one body in different stages. (See page on Visual Composition).

After you worked with the actors through the text (line-by-line analysis), you must make sure that there is the tempo-rhymth in the scene. Do not enforce the pauses, there must be reasons for pauses. So, when I wanted to stop and listen, I placed the sounds backstage (street).

In directing classes I require my student to have some signs of the people mentioned in the scene. Where is Andrey, what detail represents him? Virshinin? Masha's husband? Baron, Solyony? It hels actors to visualize and us, the spectators, to follow, to remember. You see, each character must have this prop that represents him! The sound of violin was of the Andrey's attributes.


3 sisters, Scene Study, Act III

[ directing/acting classes ]
IRINA. Yes, how petty our Andrey has grown, how dull and old he has become beside that woman! At one time he was working to get a professorship and yesterday he was boasting of having succeeded at last in becoming a member of the District Council. He's a member, and Protopopov is chairman... The whole town is laughing and talking of it and he's the only one who sees and knows nothing... And here everyone has been running to the fire while he sits still in his room and takes no notice. He does nothing but play his violin... [nervously]. Oh, it's awful, awful, awful! [Weeps] I can't bear it any more, I can't! I can't, I can't!

[OLGA comes in and begins tidying up her table.]

IRINA [sobs loudly]. Throw me out, throw me out, I can't bear it any more!

OLGA [alarmed]. What is it? What is it, darling?

IRINA [sobbing]. Where? Where has it all gone? Where is it? Oh, my God, my God! I've forgotten everything, everything... everything is in a tangle in my mind... I don't remember the Italian for window or ceiling... I'm forgetting everything; every day I forget something more and life is slipping away and will never come back, we'll never, never go to Moscow.... I see that we won't go...

OLGA. Darling, darling...

IRINA [restraining herself]. Oh, I'm miserable... I can't work, I'm not going to work. I've had enough of it, enough of it! I've been a telegraph clerk and now I have a job in the town council and I hate and despise every bit of the work they give me... I'm already twenty-three, I've been working for years, my brains are drying up, I'm getting thin and old and ugly and there's nothing, nothing, not the slightest satisfaction, and time is passing and you feel that you are moving away from a real, a beautiful life, moving farther and farther away and being drawn into the depths. I'm in despair and I don't know how it is I'm alive and haven't killed myself yet...

OLGA. Don't cry, my child, don't cry. It makes me miserable.

IRINA. I'm not crying, I'm not crying.... It's over... There, I'm not crying now. I won't... I won't.

OLGA. Darling, I'm speaking to you as a sister, as a friend, if you care for my advice, marry the baron!

[IRINA weeps quietly.]

OLGA. You know you respect him, you think highly of him.... It's true he isn't good-looking, but he is such a thoroughly nice man, so good.... A person doesn't marry for love, but to do her duty.... That's what I think, anyway, and I would marry without love. Whoever proposed to me I'd marry him, if only he were a good man.... I'd even marry an old man...

IRINA. I kept expecting we should move to Moscow and there I should meet my true love. I've been dreaming of him, loving him... But it seems that was all nonsense, nonsense...

OLGA [puts her arms round her sister]. My darling, lovely sister, I understand it all; when the baron left the army and came to us in a plain coat, I thought he looked so ugly that it positively made me cry... He asked me, "Why are you crying?" How could I tell him! But if God brought you together I should be happy. That's a different thing, you know, quite different.

[NATASHA with a candle in her hand walks across the stage from door on right to door on left without speaking.]

MASHA [sits up]. She walks about as though it were she who set fire to the town.

OLGA. Masha, you're silly. The very silliest of the family, that's you. Please forgive me [a pause].

MASHA. I want to confess my sins, dear sisters. My soul is yearning. I'm going to confess to you and never again to anyone... I'll tell you this minute [softly]. It's my secret, but you must know everything.... I can't be silent... [a pause]. I'm in love, I'm in love... I love that man.... You have just seen him... Well, I may as well say it. I love Vershinin.

OLGA [going behind her screen]. Stop it. I'm not listening anyway.

MASHA. But what am I to do? [Clutches her head.] At first I thought him strange... then I was sorry for him... then I came to love him... to love him with his voice, his words, his misfortunes, his two little girls...

OLGA [behind the screen]. I'm not listening. Whatever silly things you say I won't hear them.

MASHA. Oh, sister, you are silly. I love him -- so that's my fate. It means that that's my lot... And he loves me... It's all terrifying. Yes? Is it wrong? [Takes IRINA by the hand and draws her to herself] Oh, my darling... How are we going to live our lives, what will become of us?.. When you read a novel it all seems trite and obvious, but when you're in love yourself you see that no one knows anything and we all have to settle things for ourselves... My darlings, my sisters... I've confessed it to you, now I'll hold my tongue... I'll be like Gogol's madman... silence... silence...

[ ... ]

You can't do scenes exploration without going through the character's analysis with each actor first. Use the monologies. Have time one on one with each actor. After one read-through, do the ensamble style rehearsals, improv, exchaging the parts for demonstrations and so on. I do the directorial search with actors for the key dramatic segments; the climax, the exposition, establishing it, so we all understand from where and where we are going.

See Monologue pages in Method for Directors!

Theatre w/Anatoly
Chekhov-One-Acts @1999-2004 RAT - Russian American Theatre