Our sweeping production of Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country begins performances tonight, and we couldn’t be more excited to carry on the Festival’s tradition of great Russian drama with this ground-breaking new translation. To celebrate, here are a few highlights from the Festival’s Russian past:
> Nikos’ Legacy – During his 33-year tenure as Artistic Director, from 1956 to 1988, Nikos Psacharopoulos directed 15 productions of Russian drama, including four productions of Three Sisters, four productions of The Sea Gull, three productions of The Cherry Orchard, three productions of plays by Maxim Gorky and one production of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country. Chekhov was one of his favorite playwrights.
> The Seagull (1974) – One of Nikos’ most memorable Chekhov productions starred Blythe Danner, Frank Langella, and Olympia Dukakis among many other noted actors of the day, and was later taped for PBS’ ‘Great Performances’ program and broadcast nationwide. The lighting for this show was designed by Peter Hunt, who would later go on to succeed Nikos as Artistic Director of the Festival.
> Enemies (1982) -This production of Gorky’s play was directed by Austin Pendleton, a prolific actor and director who is one of the Festival’s most beloved family members, and featured Sam Waterston, Blythe Danner, and Steve Lawson, one of the Festival’s most veteran members and writer of this year’s Free Theatre production.
> The Chekov Cycle (2003)- To close out the 2003 season, a cadre of Festival stalwarts, including Olypmia Dukakis, Peter Hunt, and Austin Pendleton, came together to stage readings of Chekov’s four major plays, as well as a play inspired by letters written between Chekov and his wife. This last play, I take your hand in mine…, was written by Carol Rocamora and read by Olympia Dukakis and her real-life husband, Louis Zorich. The lighting design was by Ben Stanton, who designed the lights for this summer’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and the sound was designed by Drew Levy, who also designed the sound for Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Elephant Man, and A Month in the Country this season. And the stage manager was none other than the Festival’s current Producer, Stephen Kaus.
> The Cherry Orchard (2004) - Directed by Michael Greif and set-designed by Allen Moyer (director and set designer for this season’s Far From Heaven, respectively), this production featured Jessica Chastain and Michelle Williams, pre-Academy Award nominations, and Jeremy Strong, one of A Month in the Country’s leading players.
> Three Sisters (2008) – The Festival’s latest foray into Russian drama until now, many of the artists who worked on this production are now major players in this year’s Festival season. Michael Greif directed, Kenneth Posner made the lighting design, and Allen Moyer designed the set – all three of these men have just finished working in those same capacities our most recent Main stage show, Far From Heaven. Clint Ramos designed the costumes, and has now designed costumes for two of this year’s productions, Last of the Red Hot Lovers and The Elephant Man. And Stephen Kaus, once again, was stage manager.
> A Month in the Country (2012) – Our upcoming production of this Russian classic features a thrust stage built into the Main Stage’s audience space, a sound design the likes of which has never been seen at the Festival before, and a glimmering cast. Not only does it continue the Festival’s legacy of innovative and invigorating productions of Russian classics, but it marks the beginning of a collaboration between director Richard Nelson and translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, as they embark on a quest to translate the lion’s share of Russian drama. We are so thrilled to have the first fruits of that collaboration premiering here at Williamstown.
A Month in the Country plays on the Main stage from August 1-19. For tickets and more information, check out our Preview video above or click here.