Archive for November, 2012
CSC's Saturday Symposia series features lectures and discussions with prominent scholars following designated Saturday matinees throughout the season. Saturday Symposia are free to all ticket holders, seating subject to availability. Stay tuned for additional recordings of these events throughout the season. Click here for more information.
here. Can you tell us about Chekhov’s early life and work? IVANOV was written during the Moscow years. Ten years he lived in Moscow. He got there in 1879, and went to medical school, but he had written, already, two full-length plays. One he had written when he was seventeen back in Taganrog called FATHERLESSNESS. We don’t know anything about that because the script is lost. But we have the title. The second play he wrote, PLATONOV, we have a script, but no title. We made up the title PLATONOV. It was a sprawling 7-hour work with twenty characters, but with all the seminal themes and the setting of Chekhov’s later plays. All of Chekhov’s plays are set on estates. All of Chekhov’s plays deal with the same themes of the decline of the landed gentry. They all deal with love and Russia and nature and the passage of time. Now we get to IVANOV–it’s now 1887. Chekhov has graduated from medical school in 1884. He has already had his first lung hemorrhage. His health is starting to get a little iffy, but at the same time his work is starting to reach its peak. By 1887 he had already written 400 short stories, already published in two collections. He was the toast of Moscow, but as a short story writer. The year after he wrote IVANOV he wins the Pushkin Prize, which is our equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. But ever since Chekhov was a young man, he always wanted to make his mark as a dramatist. His skill was really in funny short stories, and I really believe had he not contracted a terminal illness at such an early age, he would be the Neil Simon of Russia and not the Chekhov of Russia! He was really a funny guy in a slowly dying body…but when he wrote IVANOV, neither of the two other plays had been produced—so he calls it in his letters his “first play,” he was so proud. How would you describe Chekhov’s dramatic language? How does his use of Russian compare to other writers such as Turgenev or Dostoevsky? This is why I feel that it’s useful for an audience to hear a translation of Chekhov’s plays rather than an adaptation, particularly from a translator that knows the language. Chekhov’s language is lyrical. It’s musical and alliterative. It’s sometimes razgovorny, which means colloquial, but it’s also knizhny, which is very literary. I feel modern directors tend to like adaptations more, because they’re easier for the actor. But that’s like taking Shakespeare and paraphrasing him. Most adaptors do not know the Russian and work off of transliterated texts from Russian speakers. And they tend to adapt so it sounds like David Mamet or Tom Stoppard—all of whom are wonderful—or Richard Nelson or David Hare. Those are the notable, very fine contemporary writers who have adapted Chekhov, but they’re not giving you his language. I feel my job is to just translate what Chekhov wrote and also to translate the musicality and the specificity of the language. Not change it to make it comfortable for actors. Chekhov is not at all like Dostoevsky – he’s more like Turgenev. But he’s much more light, his language is androgynous. He’s not terse and muscular. His sentences are not long. He repeats himself. For example, he doesn’t say “I love the Russian countryside.” He’ll say “You know, I really—how shall I say it? Let me put it this way, I love the Russian…countryside.” Some critics call IVANOV Chekhov’s HAMLET. Can you talk about this influence? Chekhov said in his letters to his brother and friends “I want to write something original and I want to create a type of literary significance.” In other words, Chekhov wanted to write the Russian HAMLET. I mean very specifically. You have the references in the text over and over to Hamlet, and in his letters over and over. And in fact some of the lines in the play are direct references to HAMLET.
Click here to read more on The New York Times' "Arts Beat" blog. Silverman has starred as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and in La Vegas. He has also been featured in Music in the Air (Karl) at Encores!; Cry-Baby on Broadway and The Most Happy Fella (Al) at New York City Opera. In London he played Tony in the Olivier Award-nominated West Side Story. He starred as Sky in the National tour of Mamma Mia!, and as Jose in the world premiere of the new musical Carmen at La Jolla Playhouse. He also performed in the Chicago production of Wicked. Regional credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy), Cinderella (Prince), Grease! (Danny), Hello, Dolly! (Cornelius), Assassins (John Wilkes Booth), Forever Plaid (Smudge), Sweeney Todd (Anthony) and Blood Brothers (Eddie Lyons). TV and film: Gossip Girl, The 5 Minarets Of New York, Sex and the City 2, True Blood. Concert performances with: The New York Pops, Philadelphia Pops, Philadelphia Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Seattle Symphony, The Cincinnati Pops, Utah Symphony, Houston Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, among others. PASSION begins performances on February 7 at CSC. Join our mailing list to be notified when tickets go on sale. Click here to join.