January 17 – The Cherry Orchard

1904

Today marked the opening of Anton Chekhov’s new play “The Cherry Orchard” at the Moscow Art Theatre, on a day which also marked the playwright’s 44th birthday.

Russia was still under the Julian calendar at this point and 14 years later when the then Soviet Union formally converted to the Gregorian calendar, Chekhov’s birthday became January 29th.

From the original 1904 production

From the original 1904 production

“The Cherry Orchard” itself, directed by Stanislavsky, was troubled. Largely because writer and director disagreed on everything, including whether it was a comedy or a tragedy. During the “short” 6 month rehearsal period the entire second act was re-written and Chekhov accused Stanislavsky of “ruining” his production.

The play was a huge success and soon presented for performance all over the country, but Chekhov didn’t live long to enjoy it, dying in July the same year.

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