this is the End of Sleeping based on Chekhov's fragment, adapted and directed
by Jay Scheib
this is the End of Sleeping
Adapted from the "Index of Chekhov productions" in
Laurence Senelick’s book The Chekhov Theatre
1860 Anton Chekhov born to the son of a former serf (now a grocer)
1879 Chekhov enrolls in the Moscow University Medical school
1879 Chekhov begins to write stories for humor magazines
1879 third of six children, Chekhov becomes the chief breadwinner for his family
1881 or 1882 Chekhov writes Platonov. The play was rejected by the Maly Theatre
1884 Chekhov completes medical school
1887 Chekhov writes Ivanov, and it is successfully produced
1887 ChekhovÕs volume of short stories awarded the Pushkin prize for
1891 Famine/cholera epidemic force Chekhov back to medical /public health activities
1892 Chekhov buys a country estate, Melikhovo, and serves as local doctor
1895 Chekhov writes the short story "My Life"
1896 Chekhov writes The Seagull
1897 Chekhov writes the short story "Peasants" which created a sensation
1897 Massive hemorrhaging— Chekhov to seek medical help for his tuberculosis
1899 Chekhov writes Uncle Vanja
1901 Chekhov writes Three Sisters
1901 Chekhov marries Olga Knipper, an actress with the Moscow Art Theater
1903 Chekhov writes The Cherry Orchard
1904,Chekhov dies of tuberculosis at the health spa in Badenweiler, Germany
A very partial Stage History of Platonov
1920 an Untitled play (often called Platonov) i
s found in a Moscow safe-deposit box [or desk drawer]
1929 The untitled play is adapted and produced as Der Mensch Platanoff Vinohrad
Theatre in Prague
1940 Produced as Fireworks on the James by the Provincetown Playhouse
1954 Produced as Don Juan in the Russian Manner at Barnard College, NY
1954 Produced as Poor Don Juan in Stockholm, Sweden
1956 Produced as Ce fou de Platonov, [The Folly of Platonov], Bordeaux and Paris
1957 First Russian production, produced as Platonov
1958/59 Produced by Piccolo Teatre di Milan
1960 Produced as Platonov by the Royal Court, London
1976 Adapted as Unfinished Piece for Player Piano by film director Mikhalkov
1977 Produced as Platonov by the Williamstown Theatre
1984 Adapted as Wild Honey by Michael Frayn, National Theatre, London
1987 Unfinished Piece for Player Piano adapt. Mikhalkov Theatro di Roma, Italy.
M. Mastroianni as Platonov.
1990 Adapted as Piano by Trevor Griffiths, Cottesloe Theatre, London
1991 Adapted as Without Patrimony, Sibilev Studio, Moscow
On ChekhovThe greatness
of Chekhov lies in being anti-ideological and anti-pedagogical. His characters
hurry in the search for answers which they never find. Mikhalkov
(director of Unifinished piece for Player Piano—after Platonov)
Audiences, expecting to be sucked into a plausible and gemütlich world
of bygone gentility, react angrily to productions that are more abstract,
more physical or more surrealistic than what they expected. Quite unlike Ibsen
or Beckett, the traditional Chekhov generated an affection in the playgoing
public, which in turn bred a sentimentality he would be the first to deplore.
Laurence Senelick, The Chekhov Theatre
For chemists there is
nothing unclean on the earth. The writer must be as objective as the chemist.
The people I am afraid of are the ones who look for tendentiousness between
the lines and are determined to see me as either liberal or conservative.
I am neither liberal, nor conservative, nor gradualist, nor monk. . . I would
like to be a free artist and nothing else and I regret God has not given me
the strength to be one. I hate lies and violence in all of their forms. .
. Pharisaism, dullwittedness and tyranny reign not only in merchant’s
homes and police stations. I see them in science, in literature, among the
younger generation. That is why I cultivate no particular predilection for
policemen, butchers, scientists, writers, or the younger generation. I look
upon tags and labels as prejudices. My holy of holies is the human body, health,
intelligence, talent, inspiration, love, and the most absolute freedom imaginable-freedom
from violence and lies no matter what form [they]. . . take. Such is the program
I would adhere to if I were a major artist. Anton Chekhov, Letter to his publisher.
When a woman destroys things like a man, people think it natural and everybody
understands it; but when, like a man, she wishes or tries to create, people
think it unnatural and cannot reconcile themselves to it. Anton
Women deprived of the company of men pine, men deprived of the company of
women become stupid. Anton Chekhov, Notebook
There’s a baby grand piano crawling crawling across your breast, Anna.
It’s a scream. Nicholas why don’t you play us something…
Anton Chekhov, from Platonov
You are right to demand that an artist should take a conscious [social] attitude
to his work, but you are confusing two concepts: answering [social] questions
and formulating them correctly. Only the latter is required of an artist.
There’s not a single question answered in [the novels] Anna Karenina
or Eugene Onegin, but they are fully satisfying, simply because all the questions
they raise are formulated correctly. It is the duty of the court to formulate
the questions correctly, but let the jury answer them, each according to his
own preference. Anton Chekhov
There are doctors in all [Chekhov’s] full-length plays except The Cherry
Orchard [Nicholas Triletsky is the doctor in Platonov]. All but Lvov of Ivanov
are in one or another stage of withdrawal from conscientious practice. What
are we to make of that? Richard Gilman, Chekhov’s Plays:
An Opening into Eternity
[Chekhov] wrote a long play (Platonov) and took it himself to the Maly Theatre,
hoping to hand it personally to the famous actress Maria Yermolova. Whether
he saw Yermolova or not is now know, but the play was returned to him by post.
For once he betrayed his great disappointment by tearing of the manuscript
of the play which his brother Michael had copied out for him. The rough copy
of the play, however, has been preserved. It is very long and unwieldy, but
it shows Chekhov’s first attempt to deal with the new social forces
which were just then coming to the fore in Russian and contains many themes
which he used in his great plays. Chekhov, a life by David Magarshack
The early works of major writers attract me because they lack restraint in their
daring endeavor to possess life. I admire this obsessive/obscene attempt to
contain the world with a play. The effort to write life itself, to coerce life
into playing out its own folly, its own rich and desperate attempts at glory
or happiness—This is life playing out its pitiful violence, its maddening
disillusionment, its tidal march toward social obsolescence—this is Chekhov’s
first play. A masterpiece of unruliness and one of the great mysteries of Russian
literature. Discovered posthumously sometime around 1920 in a safe deposit box.
Its title page was missing. This play is Untitled. Some scholars theorize the
play to be the Fatherlessness text that Chekhov names in a letter to his brother.
A play he is known to have destroyed.
I title the performance and not the text. The text remains unnamed—though
I think that Fatherlessness is both appropriate and fitting of Chekhov’s
young intellect. The performance that I am making is titled In this is the End
of Sleeping. Fatherlessness pronounced in the Russian Language sounds to the
Hebrew speaker like In this is the End of Sleeping.
In this is the End of Sleeping is a live performance for two-channel video installation,
real-time audio processing and an opportunity to make a play about Russia speak
to America. In this is the End of Sleeping celebrates Chekhov’s flight
into naturalism, drawing inspiration from the cinema verité, and Russian
filmmakers like Tarkovsky with a nod to crude reality television technology.
It is the longest day of the year and it’s a hot hot sleeplessness here—the
sweat pours like rain and the water is icy cold. But when the laughing and drinking
and running through the woods gives way to kissing and bathing and shooting
guns… no one will survive unchanged.
This is the age of cynicism, and it feels to me a lot like Chekhov—the
perfect moment to lure Platonov to the stage—at the end of an era. This
play is about loving each other, and buying each other out.
Jay Scheib, Summer/Fall 2004