Monday, 5 June 2017

Chekhov's Gun

ALEXANDER SEREBRAKOFF, a retired professor

HELENA, his wife, twenty-seven years old

SONIA, his daughter by a former marriage

MME. VOITSKAYA, widow of a privy councilor, and mother of Serebrakoff's
first wife



ILIA (WAFFLES) TELEGIN, an impoverished landowner

MARINA, an old nurse


The scene is laid on SEREBRAKOFF'S country place

A country house on a terrace. In front of it a garden. In an avenue of
trees, under an old poplar, stands a table set for tea, with a samovar,
etc. Some benches and chairs stand near the table. On one of them is
lying a guitar. A hammock is swung near the table. It is three o'clock
in the afternoon of a cloudy day.

The King snakes his way through the comedies of Chekhov, into Pere Ubu (the secret puppet-master behind the usurpers and conspirators), slipping across the surface of the DADA cabaret and never coming to rest. Schechner's description of theatre as ritual (or should that be vice-versa?) hints at the true purpose of art in the twentieth century: a desperate attempt to bind the demon that has entered into our reality via a single invocation.

Chekhov's Gun -  a formulation that attempts to remind theatre-makers that economy of dramaturgy is important - points to a darker truth: that which is present, has meaning. Art contains a surfeit of meaning, and nothing is without resonance. This could be the gift of the King, a refusal of randomness and the inability to discard anything as irrelevant.

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