Anton Chekov is alive and well and living in New York City.
The great Russian writer, author of Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya, The Seagull and a slew of often comic short stories, is the subject of the second annual Chekhov Now Festival, beginning performances at the Connelly Theatre Nov. 1. An eclectic blend of Chekhov's plays, adaptations of his stories and incidents from his life dramatized by the city's Off-Off-Broadway theatre companies, Chekhov Now runs through Nov. 19.
Among the creative and straight productions of Chekhov are:
Dmitry Lipkin's Salesman (Nov. 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19): A look into the life of a door-to-door saleman trying to hawk the works of an under-appreciated Russian playwright to Middle America. But is Chekhov what he's really selling? Adam Melnick, co-founder of the Festival, directs.
How to Insult Your True Love (Nov. 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19): A musical comedy retelling of "The Marriage Proposal," where would-be lovers almost miss their love connection in a petty land dispute. Burton Sternthal wrote the music and lyrics and Howard Berkowitz directs. To Kill Charlotte (Nov. 14-18): An tragi-comic adaptation of Ivanov featuring an annoying, magic-trick playing visitor from The Cherry Orchard, while asking the question, "Will killing Charlotte end the futility of life?" Slava Sepnov of STEPS Theatre directs.
Three Sister (Nov. 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19): Directed by Steven McElroy, co-artistic director of The New Ensemble Theatre Company, Inc., this production promises to be a "a vibrantly boring, beautifully drab, humorously sad rendering of one of the greatest plays ever written," bringing to life a provincial town in "all its gloriously mind-numbing monotony."
Hello Meatman (Nov. 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 17, 18): Leah Ryan's adaptation of "Murder," placing the story in a New York state restaurant where a man enters and wants a hamburger, but the butcher's not taking checks anymore. Teen angst, prison, Greyhound buses, amateur magic and murder all come into play. Tim Moore directs.
There will also be adaptations of "The Student" (In the Widow's Garden by Courney Baron), "The Diary of a Violent Madman" (The Madman by Ron Fitzgerald), "The Foulest of All Creatures" (adapted and directed by David Gochfeld), "Anna on the Neck" (The Beginning of No by Cusi Cram), "The Enemies" (adapted and directed by Alla Kigel) and "Ionych" (adapted and directed by Lise Liepmann).
Presented by the Laboratory for International Theatre Exchange, Chekhov Now was the inspiration of Melnick and Hyoung-Take Limb, LITE's co-artistic directors. LITE's recent productions include a commedia dell'Arte production of Romeo and Juliet and Camp Holocaust.
Tickets to Chekhov Now are $12. The Connelly Theatre is located at 220 East 4th Street. For reservations, call (212) 414-7773.
— By Christine Ehren