The Orchard, which will be available for in-person audiences and virtual theatregoers, will begin previews Off-Broadway at The Baryshnikov Arts Center May 31.
Conceived, adapted, and directed by Ukrainian-born theatre director Igor Golyak, The Orchard is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, translated by Carol Rocamora with additional material developed by Golyak. The production will officially open June 16 for a limited run through July 3.
The cast will be led by Jessica Hecht (Fiddler on the Roof, Breaking Bad) as Ranevskaya, Anna Baryshnikov (Manchester By the Sea), Juliet Brett (Fosse/Verdon), Darya Denisova (State vs. Natasha Banina), John McGinty (Children of a Lesser God), Nael Nacer (chekhovOS), Mark Nelson (Angels In America), and stage and screen star Mikhail Baryshnikov, who will play both Anton Chekhov and Firs.
Audiences in the theatre will enter an immersive environment where perceptions, illusions, and reality collide as a family in crisis tries to process their future. The production has scenic design by Anna Fedorova, costume design by Oana Botez, lighting design by Yuki Link, and sound design by Tei Blow. The robotics are designed by a team led by Adam Paikowsky of dotdotdash.io with holographic projections conceived by Golyak.
The virtual experience invites audiences on a journey through a three-dimensional property that has been abandoned and is in foreclosure. Audiences can explore magical rooms where they uncover echoes of a past life, including Chekhov's letters, memories, and, ultimately, the play, live, in progress at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The creative team includes virtual scenic design by Anna Fedorova—in partnership with Alex Coulombe of Agile Lens, Athomas Goldberg of Lifelike & Believable Animation Design, and Unreal designers Daniel Cormino, Yu-Jun Yeh and Emily Cho—with virtual sound design by Alexey Prosvirnin and interactivity design by Sasha Huh.
The in-person and online versions will run concurrently for each performance. Partway through the performances, the two versions intersect and the worlds come together.
“This is a story about the delicate relationships at the center of a family facing the end of the world as they know it,” says Golyak. “We are living through an unimaginable time of change and destruction with the war in Ukraine and with the pandemic. As humans, we are perpetually losing our cherry orchards, losing our worlds. This play is about us today."
In February 2021, the Baryshnikov Arts Center and Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation co-presented The Cherry Orchard: A New Media Workshop.