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Happy Birthday, Anton!

By Sara Billmann

Anton Chekhov with birthday cakeAnton Chekhov’s 150th birthday is today.  UMS is celebrating his sesquicentennial a couple of months late, with the Maly Drama Theater of St. Petersburg’s production of Uncle Vanya.

A quick trip through the UMS archives (which is really a set of card catalog drawers filled with meticulously kept index cards — but more on that later…) shows just one Chekhov production, and, in typical Chekhovian fashion, a missed one at that.  In February 2000, UMS was scheduled to present Martha Clarke’s Vers la flamme, set to a series of Chekhov short stories. Sadly, the production was canceled due to “insurmountable technical problems” that kept the production from transferring to Ann Arbor.  I was lucky enough to have seen the work at Lincoln Center before it was scheduled to come to Ann Arbor, and it was a staggering piece of dance-theater.  While we did subsequently bring Martha Clarke’s company to Ann Arbor in February 2003, it was with a different work that did not have a Chekhov connection.

The production photos of the Maly production of Uncle Vanya are beautiful, with costumes inspired by the play’s very first production in 1899.

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