Fri, May 26, 2000 - Page 7 News List

A play on reality

Ordinary life is what Chekov is all about, so the Moscow Art Theater will delve into the daily grind of household melodrama during its performance of the Russian classic Uncle Vanya

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

voice.

One wonders how much Andrei Myagkov, the actor who plays Uncle Vanya, was joking when he said that the only reason he was chosen for the role when this production first began in 1985, was that he was 47 years of age. Uncle Vanya at mentions his age as 47 at one point in the play - so Myagkov said that now at 62, "I will find some difficulty in being true to the character. The audience will feel it has been cheated." Perhaps it is an example of Russian humor.

Myagkov, a highly successful film and stage actor and a director in his own right, is one of a strong cast including some of Russia's most distinguished actors. The weight of tradition was overpowering for Vera Sotnikova, one of the youngest members of the cast, who said: "I feel like I am carrying the weight of 100 years on my back." They look back on an ideal that took shape in the years before the Bolshevik revolution in which the theatrical mission had changed from a celebration of the nobility to the portrayal of real people in real-life situations - arguably a more difficult task.

Members of the cast agreed that it was the combination of a tradition of ensemble acting with a dedication to realistic portrayal of characters that has made it possible for Moscow Art Theater to hold its undisputed place as

an interpreter of Chekov.

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