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!Kindle ⚆ Три сестры ☤ First Performed At The Moscow Art Theatre In , The Three Sisters Probes The Lives And Dreams Of Olga, Masha, And Irina, Former Muscovites Now Living In A Provincial Town From Which They Long To Escape Their Hopes For A Life Suited To Their Cultivated Tastes And Sensibilities Provide A Touching Counterpoint To The Relentless Flow Of Compromising Events In The Real WorldIn This Powerful Play, A Landmark Of Modern Drama, Chekhov Masterfully Interweaves Character And Theme In Subtle Ways That Make The Work S Finale Seem As Inevitable As It Is Deeply Moving It Is Reprinted Here From A Standard Text With Updated Transliteration Of Character Names And Additional Explanatory Footnotes By the sea stands a green oak tree A golden chain strung round it And on the chain a learned catDay and night circles round it Walking right, he sings a song,Walking left, he tells a tale Alexander PushkinThe tale, this time, is not about Ruslan and Ludmila, the epic poem written by Pushkin and published in 1820, whose opening lines were inspired by the author s favorite tree, which turned out to be a mulberry tree in Taganrog, in southern Russia Between us, and as some residents said, he wasn t under the obligation to know botany The tale, this time, is a play written in 1900 by Anton Chekhov about the Prozorov family, especially the three sisters Olga Prozorova, the eldest, a high school teacher and then headmistress Masha Kulygina, the middle sister, unhappily married and often reciting the first lines of Pushkin s poem and Irina Prozorova, the youngest, stuck in a provincial town as the rest of the family and always longing for Moscow, where she would find her true love Another exhausting quest for meaning in a life which is filled with trials and tribulations and some gleams of light in between IRINA lays her head on OLGA S bosom A time will come when everyone will know what all this is for, why there is this misery there will be no mysteries and, meanwhile, we have got to livewe have got to work, only to work Tomorrow I ll go alone I ll teach in the school, and I ll give all my life to those who may need me Now it s autumn soon winter will come and cover us with snow, and I will work, I will work VERSHININ after a moment s thought Well, I don t know It seems to me that everything on earth is bound to change by degrees and is already changing before our eyes In two or three hundred, perhaps in a thousand years the time does not matter a new, happy life will come We shall have no share in that life, of course, but we re living for it, we re working, well, yes, and suffering for it, we re creating it and that alone is the purpose of our existence, and is our happiness, if you like The play is infused with other elements that reminded me not only of Pushkin but other two great Russian authors entangled family dynamics, soldiers and barons, adultery, hypocritical manipulation, a duel based on nothing, unconditional love which has been silenced for years, reflections on human existence and its meaning TUZENBAKH Well When we are dead, men will fly in balloons, change the fashion of their coats, will discover a sixth sense, perhaps, and develop it, but life will remain just the same, difficult, full of mysteries and happiness In a thousand years man will sigh just the same, Ah, how hard life is, and yet just as now he will be afraid of death and not want it and above all, longing The characters have different aspirations that converged in the mitigation of loneliness That s what fascinated and repelled me at the same time because it s not a foreign notion to me The thought, the conviction even, that after achieving something, after going to a certain place, life will be as we dreamed it And most of the times, having accomplished what we wanted while contemplating the sights of the new residence in which we re dwelling, happiness becomes everelusive VERSHININ The other day I was reading the diary of a French minister written in prison The minister was condemned for the Panama affair With what enthusiasm and delight he describes the birds he sees from the prison window, which he never noticed before when he was a minister Now that he s released, of course he notices birds nothan he did before In the same way, you won t notice Moscow when you live in it We have no happiness and never do have, we only long for it Or perhaps there isbeyond longing, if the responsibility for a moment of happiness because that s all there is is not put on something or someone else.May 01, 19 Also on my blog Notes1 The New Yorker, Pushkin s Favorite Tree February 17, 20102 Why of course, Tolstoy and my all time favorite, Dostoyevsky.3 Allusion to a passage from Fernando Pessoa s The Book of Disquiet There s no happiness without knowledge But the knowledge of happiness brings unhappiness, because to know that you re happy is to realize that you re experiencing a happy moment and will soon have to leave it behind. Enjoy it, then So far I have been very lucky with the theatre productions I have been attending This one did not shine as much, though I wonder whether had I not been able to compare to some brilliant staging would this play have engaged me .Nonetheless, it was entertaining The setting was realistic , with the d cor of a late nineteenth century Russia middle class home, with the most appealing aspect in the way parallel actions and conversations could take place on a single defined space The acting was convincing but verging on the overacting, in particular at the beginning when it verged somewhat towards the histrionic The dynamics of the play consist of a descent from a forte in mood and enthusiasm of the three sisters and the one brother, to a moody piano as the dreams and the illusions and hopes of the four siblings are deflate and flatten And Eldorado Moscow remains an elusive dream and the tougher reality of a provincial rural world prevails.I enjoyed that a real piano was on the stage and that it was not the only instrument invited onto the scene Music seemed at times to be another character the most satisfying and satisfied of them all. After us they ll fly in hot air balloons, coat styles will change, perhaps they ll discover a sixth sense and cultivate it, but life will remain the same, a hard life full of secrets, but happy And a thousand years from now man will still be sighing, Oh Life is so hard and will still, like now, be afraid of death and not want to die The Three Sisters examines the lives of the Prozorovs, a Russian family who live in a provincial town far from Moscow The three sisters, Masha, Olga, and Irina, all long to return to Moscow and complain about their boring lives Their brother Andrey is thought to be their only hope for a secure future But he spoils all that and his sisters future, too by marrying Natasha, a woman who eventually forces the sisters to leave their own home Masha, Irina, and Olga fail at jobs, marriage, and romance In the end, each sister ponders why life has been so disappointing for them Hint It s been pretty much up to them.The three sisters and their brother are pretty privileged, members of a fading aristocracy The play, which was first produced in 1900 is, like his The Cherry Orchard, a kind of late life reflection on Russia at the close of the nineteenth century Chekhov had tb, and would die of the disease 4 years later, but his initial view of his play is that it was a comedy poking fun at people for mostly choosing to be unhappy He once said, All I wanted was to say honestly to people Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are Oh, I am unhappy I can t work, I won t work My brain has dried up, and I ve grown thinner, plainer, older, and there is no relief of any sort, and time goes and it seems all the while as if I am going away from the real, the beautiful life, farther and farther away, down some precipice I m in despair and I can t understand how it is that I am still alive, that I haven t killed myself Chekhov focuses on the sisters inability to be happy and their brother s just as deeply entrenched nihilism From the earliest productions, the play has embraced a kind of tension between sympathy for the family and a lightly satirical view of them Andrey Oh, where is it all gone What s become of my past, when I was young, happy, and clever, when my dreams and thoughts were exquisite, when my present and my past were lighted up by hope Why on the very threshold of life do we become dull, drab, uninteresting, lazy, indifferent, useless, unhappythe divine spark is quenched and we become the same sort of pitiful, dead creatures, all exactly alike, as our fathers and mothers Chekhov was neither an existentialist nor a nihilist, so I think of his play as a comedy with the aim of waking up his audience to embrace the present and make a meaningful commitment to love and that divine spark But I also think it can be seen as a sad social critique, too, in a rather different interpretation of the script.I listened to a production of this play set in the nineties translated and adapted by David Mamet, and I liked it I love Chekhov, who raises questions without answering them, and who creates characters without judging them too harshly, in my opinion, but I am going to read a translation adaptation by Tracy Letts soon to see what he does with it. There can be no happiness for us, it only exists in our wishesI picked up this play on a whim, after seeing a few negative reviews by my friends Curiosity mooted me to find out what they didn t like about it A close friend, however, did remark that I would love it and honestly, I did If I were to sum up my understanding of the undercurrents that flowed under this play, it would be the quote I shared above, which is from this play itself.Life is to be lived forwards and understood backwards, at least that s what the old adage says and that s what I believe However, in life, you can t help but give way to dreams, dreams of a future that is better than the present and look for times in the past that were purportedly worse than the present In short, it is about justifying your current situation so that you can live at peace, if not with happiness Chekhov s characters in this play are true followers of that and perhaps some .The play opens with the three sisters, Olga, Irina and Masha sitting comfortably in their home with their brother Andrei, celebrating the name day of Irina People call on the sisters to wish Irina and to partake lunch with them The mood is definitely celebratory but we can detect a certain sense of unease in the sisters, largely due to their expectations from their lives being larger than ever It sets the tone of the entire play and what falls out is quite a treatise in philosophy, especially regarding the connection between living and happiness This play in four parts beautifully portrays the developmental arc of all the characters Each act of the play portrays an incident, which takes place with or around the sisters and their family, making it personal The reactions of the characters towards these various incidences can be interpreted as being applicable to the Russian community at large in those times The emphasis on culture and education, the lofty ideals and dreams, philosophizing every little thing, and the marked lack of action towards fulfilling any of those ideals or dreams, were some of the topics that this play touched upon The tone of the entire play is quite sardonic, insomuch as it talks about the inaction that belied every thought invoked by the characters as opposed to actual action The main characters of the play, the three sisters, were well educated and had independent means to do whatever they want to, but instead of acting upon those dreams of going to Moscow, they are content in just speaking of it, perhaps in an idle manner Dreams are meant to be just that, just dreams, and nothing else for if they were to become reality, the reality would be boring and they would then have to seek newer dreams The inability of human nature to work towards one s goals, the inability to reach out for the best, while all the way they claim that they deserve the best is perhaps the most common human behavior in the world and Chekhov, through this play, has brought it out in a manner that is most profound and yet quite ironic Each sister is shown to be unhappy with her life but they don t do anything about it Despite having the means, they compromise and glorify these unnecessary sacrifices or compromises while always dreaming of a better tomorrow The strain We shall live in Moscow becomes an unfulfilled dream for no better reason than the inability to act upon it, making it a dream that takes proportions that are larger than life Chekhov, through their interactions, shows us that it is not the action that they desire, so much as they desire the dreaming of it In other words, going to Moscow won t really change what they are, for once they are there, they might out of sheer boredom think of something else that would please them better and show themselves as martyrs once again Chekhov brings forth this attitude beautifully during the discussion between Masha and Vershinin, where Vershinin through his philosophizing routine tries to pinpoint the necessity of action but the sisters reaction shows that it isn t action but the very inaction that they desire it should remain a dream, always a dream and nothingthan a mere dream MASHA A knowledge of three languages is an unnecessary luxury in this town It isn t even a luxury but a sort of useless extra, like a sixth finger We know a lot too much VERSHININ Well, I say You know a lot too much I don t think there can really be a town so dull and stupid as to have no place for a clever, cultured person Let us suppose even that among the hundred thousand inhabitants of this backward and uneducated town, there are only three persons like yourself It stands to reason that you won t be able to conquer that dark mob around you little by little as you grow older you will be bound to give way and lose yourselves in this crowd of hundred thousand human beings their life will suck you up in itself, but still, you won t disappear having influenced nobody later on, others like you will come, perhaps six of them, then twelve, and so on, until at last your sort will be in the majority In two or three hundred years time life on this earth will be unimaginably beautiful and wonderful Mankind needs such a life, and if it is not ours today then we must look ahead for it, wait, think, prepare for it We must see and knowthan our fathers and grandfathers saw and knew And you complain that you know too much.MASHA I ll stay to lunch.IRINA Yes, all that ought to be written down. This review is not of Chekhov s brilliant play, but of the translation by Moura Budberg If you know me, you know I love Chekhov, and I love comparing different translations of his plays I find it fascinating how people can view the same piece of writing so differently The problem with Budberg s translation is how stuffy it is It is very classy stuff, lots of technique is called for from the women to overact, and throw themselves on the nearest gentleman wailing in hysterics These people were written by Chekhov to be passionate, hot blooded and full of life In Budberg s hands these people become nothingthan caricatures All the life is sucked out of them They become very stoic and oh so British Is it any surprise that Olivier used this translation for his production in 1967 There are so many brilliant translations of Three Sisters out there this, sadly, is not one of them. 3.5 5 based on this translation.The story goes that many years ago, a couple saw a performance of Chekhov s THREE SISTERS, afterwards, the husband gentleman turn to his wife and moaned, Three hours, and they didn t get to Moscow The wife turned to her husband, shot him a withering look and said in the driest of tones, Murray, if they got to Moscow, it would have been a musical Chekhov believed THREE SISTERS to be a comedy In fact, Chekhov was convinced of it When the Moscow Art Theatre gathered to read it for the first time, the entire troupe was reduced to tears Chekhov finally relented and titled the piece a drama in four acts, the only time he ever gave that designation to any of his plays I myself, have never found much comedy in THREE SISTERS, and I am one of those people who does find Chekhov to be hilarious I dare you to watch The Seagull, and not laugh out loud For me, THREE SISTERS is a problem play, and my least favorite of Chekhov s major plays This is due I believe mainly to faulty translations This translation was authored by Stark Young My issues with his translation is that it is too stagy, too wordy Stark may have been renowned for his translations at the time, but honestly, they have not held up will over time Young writes from a romanticized view of Russia, serfs and class structures, much the same as some writers have romanticized slavery Young s characters never come alive for me There is no vibrancy or life to these people They are dead before they take the stage The question at the center of THREE SISTERS How do we go on Honestly, in Young s translation of THREE SISTERS, you don t care Before the end of the year, I will read David Mamet s translation Tracy Letts translation I hope in the hands of dramatists, the characters truly come alive. Written and performed at the turn of the century 1900 , The Three Sisters is one of Chekhov s best known plays The sisters, Olga, Masha, and Irina, former Muscovite s now living in a provincial city, are struggling to find happiness in their lives They dream of returning to Moscow someday to find love and fulfillment, but they are trapped by the events and circumstances surrounding their daily lives The themes in the play are very subtle and it can be a difficult one to read It would be better to see the play on stage I think, and watch the actors bring the personalities and emotions of these sisters to life I was struck by their devotion and loyalty to one another, and their determination to make the best of what life had thrust upon them. Book Review4 out of 5 stars to The Three Sisters, a Russian play published in 1900 by Anton Chekhov What an introspective work, but then again, Chekov is always at the top of this particular game, that is, presenting a slice of life we know dear to our hearts In this one, perhaps his most famous play, three sisters are stuck in a small Russian village, but year to be back in Moscow Circumstances prevent it If you don t know any Russian history, you might want to brush up on it before taking this one on I struggle to recognize this book came about less than two decades before the famous Romanov family was executed It feels so very different yet so much the same I digress This story is about choice Or lack of choice Orappropriately denying yourself the ability to choose because you lack the confidence to do what you need to do The three sisters, arguably quite different, might indeed by the same woman inside Life is hard Seeing what happens around you when someone else controls the minutes, can be difficult And you feel stagnant But when this happens, a writer can capture the beauty of something known as nothing It s the little things that make life so interesting and this book so wonderfulAbout MeFor those new to me or my reviews here s the scoop I read A LOT I write A LOT And now I blog A LOT First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at where you ll also find TV Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I ve visited all over the world And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who what when where and my pictures Leave a comment and let me know what you think Vote in the poll and ratings Thanks for stopping by. Three Sisters tells us the lives, struggles and dreams of Olga, Masha and Irina at a time of social and political change in Russia Change and transformation has been one of the key themes of Chekhov as the social and political changes were slowly making progress through Russia Though Chekhov didn t live to see the Russian revolution, his works hints at future change which was inevitable Olga, Masha and Irina dream of settling down in Moscow and living in an elevated society Their struggle to achieve this end and the circumstances and misfortunes that bar their progress in realizing the dream is dramatically presented The story, the characters and the dramatic effect was all interesting, and I did enjoy the read This is the second play that I have read of Chekhov the first being The Cherry Orchard and I really feel they should be watched than read The strong emotions that Chekhov imparts in to the characters are best seen than read The joys, sorrows, heartaches and jealousies that were accurately and vividly portrayed would have beenheartfelt was the play watched Chekhov wrote them to be performed and only through performance could the true nature of the play would come to light.