Three Sisters, The Chekhov/Detroit Project
Produced by RUMPUSROOM, a performance experiment
By: Anton Chekhov, Amanda Ewing, Chantel Gaidica
Directed by Chantel Gaidica with Dramaturg Amanda Ewing
The Three Sisters Project – Matrix Theatre Company Residency – April 2014
We endeavour to interpret and explore gender relationships in the workplace and home by using Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. Through engaging the hopelessness and enduring suffering of Chekhov’s work we will place the themes of The Three Sisters in conversation with the disenfranchisement of Detroit. Through multi-medium acts our company, RUMPUSROOM, focuses on experimental performance rooted in text and ornamented by other performance elements.
Don’t be fooled though – this is a comedic drama.
The work of Chekhov has an inherent humour to it. We are treating The Three Sisters as a primary text, a jumping off point for us to use a classic text in conversation with other thematic focuses. We play with performance lecture, movement, Motown, traditional text, and verbatim theatre.
We break the play into three separate performative moments; one piece for each of the sisters and a connecting piece, which weaves their stories through the perspective of their joint antagonist, Natasha (who is an amalgamation of the negative qualities of each of the women). Focusing on each sister’s through-line, and the intertwining effort of antagonist Natasha, we will emphasise the fractured moments of Chekohv’s play through media, source material, and choreographic moments.
Olga, the eldest sister is a teacher. Olga’s story circles around her career – when she is promoted to headmistress she loses any possibility of moving to Moscow. Her piece combines text from interviews with teachers and students in Detroit Public Schools woven with Chekhov’s original text about teaching, labor, and struggle.
Masha is the middle child. Already married, Masha is in a loveless marriage, and already knows she will never have her dreams. This primarily movement based piece layers classic Motown hits with Chekhov’s text.
Irina has just entered the workforce as the youngest child in the family. Through performance lecture, we explore despair from the perspective of Irina – the world’s leading expert on despair. Entitled “Dear Diary, a performance lecture by Irina Prozorov, the world’s leading expert in despair,” Irina’s story is one of hope, and a young woman’s understanding of reality.