I’m not really sure why, but on November 9th, 2016 I picked up The Complete Works of Anton Chekhov and in a week I had finished the whole thing. After reading that book, I knew that I HAD to direct Three Sisters. Not only is it one of the best plays that has ever been written, but no other piece of dramatic literature makes me realize the difficulty in being a human being operating in the world. This plays intrinsically understands how hard it is just to wake up in the morning and make the decision to get out of bed and face whatever is outside the door. I’ve always known this about Chekhov and Three Sisters in particular, but it took on a whole new personal meaning when I woke up on November 9th, 2016 and made the conscious decision to not roll over and hide, but to swing my legs over the bed and see what the world was going to throw at me.
However, one problem remained. I wanted to do this show, but no translation I read was as vital or relevant as I wanted it to be. Chekhov certainly did not set out to write a dusty old classic and I didn’t want to present one to Portland audiences. I decided to take on the mantle of adapting it myself. To create something that was wholly the ideas and characters that Chekhov created, but with dialogue that felt current and immediate. Through this process, I was able to better articulate my own personal frustration at the world around me and also at myself for not being able to do more for the people in my life. I, much like Masha in the play, sometimes felt like I was stuck in a world that cared little for science, books, or empathetic feeling. What can any of us really do? Call a congressman? March? Does any of that really work?
By the time I finished the first draft I realized that yes, life is hard. It can be stupid and seem pointless. But we, just like Chekhov’s characters, have to keep moving forward and we need each other to do it. Only with one another’s support can we as individuals and as a society move forward. Love is the answer.
Chekhov fashioned a play that is timeless. This adaptation will speak to the frustration that so many people in the United States are feeling every time they turn on the news or check their social media accounts. What can any of us do?
“If only we knew. If only we knew.”