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Masterworks Paperback: The Cherry Orchard Donald Rayfield

Masterworks Paperback: The Cherry Orchard

Donald Rayfield

Published March 15th 1994
ISBN : 9780805744514
Paperback
146 pages
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 About the Book 

For decades after its first performance in 1904, Anton Chekhovs The Cherry Orchard fomented controversy among producers, actors, critics, and audiences. Along with its intrinsic textual richness, linguistic power, and subtlety, the play is saturatedMoreFor decades after its first performance in 1904, Anton Chekhovs The Cherry Orchard fomented controversy among producers, actors, critics, and audiences. Along with its intrinsic textual richness, linguistic power, and subtlety, the play is saturated with many different, apparently incompatible, elements- it constantly shifts from comedy to pathos, its language concomitantly oscillating from music hall vulgarity to prose poetry. Chekhov assigned a personal way of speaking to each character, divorcing consequence from action, cause from effect. Despite the controversy generated by its paradoxical nature, however, The Cherry Orchard has become a milestone in twentieth-century drama. In this astute analysis of Chekhovs last play, Donald Rayfield argues that The Cherry Orchard can be best understood when read as a culmination of the dramatists major plays, particularly The Seagull (1896) and Three Sisters (1901). Stressing that Chekhov the playwright is inseparable from Chekhov the story writer, Rayfield points up instances in which the author reuses material from such classic stories as A Visit to Friends, Panpipes, The Black Monk, and The Bride. An engaging history of the how the play came to be - complete with citations from Chekhovs notebooks to show the parallels between his life and the lives of his characters - amplifies Rayfields dissemination of the dramatists themes and stylistics technique. Rayfield further uses Chekhovs letters to and from those involved in the initial productio - the Moscow Arts Theater director Konstantin Stanislavsky- Chekhovs wife, the actress Olga Knipper- and various of Chekhovs contemporaries in the theater - to chronicle the playsevolution. The apparent contradiction of a play that is simultaneously comic and tragic is, Rayfield concludes, a fact of the modernist drama of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, and Antonin Artaud. Rayfields concise analysis is an essential companion to any reading of The Cherry Orc