Chekhov/Tolstoy: Love Stories
Adapted for the Stage by Miles Malleson
Directed by Jonathan Bank & Jane Shaw
January 23rd 2020 through March 11th 2020
410 West 42nd St.
Mint Theater Company presents a program of short plays adapted from stories by two of the world’s greatest authors, Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy. These dramatic adaptations are from one of our favorite playwrights, Miles Malleson, author of Mint productions, Conflict and Yours Unfaithfully, both New York Times Critic’s Picks.
The Artist, directed by Jonathan Bank, and Michael, directed by Jane Shaw, were adapted, by Miles Malleson, from short stories by Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy, respectively—two guys who weren’t afraid of tackling the big issues and who grapple here with questions of morality, social justice, the role of the artist, and miracles of Christianity. Malleson, an English actor, playwright, and pacifist, devised these elegant reconfigurations as the Great War was coming to a close; Bank’s Mint Theater pairs them for the first time, in productions that are thoroughly handsome and thought-provoking.
The New Yorker
Chekhov wrote more than five hundred short stories in the years before he wrote the four plays that made his theatrical immortality. “If you ask any writer whom they revere as the founder of the modern short story, the chances are the answer will be Chekhov,” writes Rosamund Bartlett, author of books about both Chekhov and Tolstoy.
Chekhov’s An Artist’s Story tells the story of Nicov, a painter who encounters two very different women on a visit to the country. The flirtatious Genya flatters the artist with questions about miracles and the eternal, while her pragmatic sister Lidia ridicules the artist, questioning the necessity of landscapes in a world where people are poor and hungry. Together, they bring him to a new understanding of himself.
The first production was in 1919, directed by Edith Craig and produced by the Pioneer Players: an independent theater society known for its productions of feminist and Russian drama. Malleson played the title role.
Tolstoy’s What Men Live By tells the story of a Russian peasant couple whose lives intersect with a mysterious stranger whose odd ways and brilliant smile bring them to a new understanding as well. What Men Live By reflects Tolstoy’s dedication to living out a Christian pacifism based on personal conscience.
In the midst of World War I, the pacifist Malleson was inspired by Tolstoy’s empathetic vision. Infusing his adaptation with string quartet music composed for the production by Norman O’Neill, Malleson’s adaptation premiered as part of an all-female student program by London’s Academy of Dramatic Arts, providing audiences with “the pure milk of the Tolstoyan word on loving-kindness.” Audiences shell-shocked by the war welcomed this balm; audiences today will also warm to this hopeful tale of love and redemption.
Mint’s production is the first-ever pairing of Malleson’s Russian gems, co-directed by Mint Artistic Director Jonathan Bank and his longtime collaborator, Jane Shaw. Jane has designed sound, and composed and arranged music for thirty Mint productions; she makes her directorial debut at the Mint.
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Brittany Anikka Liu
J. Paul Nicholas
Alexander Sokovikov/Henry Clarke
Sets: Roger Hanna
Costumes: Oana Botez
Lights: Matthew Richards
Sound: Jane Shaw
Props: Natalie Carney
Casting: Stephanie Klapper, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Jeff Meyers
Stage Manager: Andrea Jess Berkey
Illustration: Stefano Imbert
Graphics: Hey Jude Design, Inc.
Press: David Gersten & Associates
DIRECTOR AND DESIGNERS - JANE SHAW, JONATHAN BANK & DESIGN TEAM
A peek into the design process with directors Jane Shaw, Jonathan Bank, and their creative team: Roger Hanna (Scenic), Oana Botez (Costumes), Matthew Richards (Lights), and Chris Fields (Props). This panel discussion will provide insight into the collaborative process.
MAYA CANTU, BENNINGTON COLLEGE
“A Mere Painter of Pictures?” Maya Cantu is Mint’s resident dramaturge; a theater historian, and author of American Cinderellas on the Broadway Musical Stage. Dr Cantu will discuss Malleson’s adaptations, and his political and religious affinities with Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy. Dr. Cantu is an alumnus of the Yale School of Drama, where she received her MFA and DFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism.
NADYA PETERSON, HUNTER COLLEGE
Dr. Peterson is Head of the Russian and Slavic Studies Program at Hunter College; she is a specialist on contemporary Russian prose, women’s literature and Chekhov. Professor Peterson teaches advanced language courses, courses on translation, women’s literature, nineteenth and twentieth century Russian literature, as well as courses on Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chekhov and Dostoevsky both in Russian and in English. Dr. Peterson is also on the faculty of the Doctoral Program in Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center.
MAUDE MEISEL, PACE UNIVERSITY
Dr. Maude Meisel is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds a PhD from the Department of Slavic
Languages at Columbia Unversity. She has taught courses in Russian, Humanities, and Drama at Columbia, Middlebury College, and SUNY Stony Brook. She is currently the Associate Director of the Challenge to Achievement program at Pace University.
BORIS FISHMAN, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus, and immigrated to the United States in 1988 at nine. Boris received a degree in Russian literature from Princeton University, and recently wrote the introduction to the Restless Classics edition of Chekhov: Stories for Our Time, which begins, “Everything you know about Anton Chekhov is wrong.” Fishman is the acclaimed author of A Replacement Life, a 2014 New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and several other books. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian, among other publications.
JEFFERSON GATTRALL, MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY
Jefferson J. A. Gatrall is Associate Professor of Russian and Director of Medical Humanities at Montclair State University. He is the author of The Real and the Sacred: Picturing Jesus in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (University of Michigan Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Alter Icons: The Russian Icon and Modernity (Penn State University Press, 2010). His publications include essays on Chekhov and medicine; Tolstoy, religion painting, and folk literature; the novels of Dostoevsky, Proust, Lew Wallace, Mikhail Lermontov, and Dmitry Merezhkovsky; the paintings of Vasily Polenov, Nikolai Ge, and Ivan Kramskoy.