Many countries have great theatrical traditions. However, we Americans seldom get to experience them. About 90 percent of the shows reviewed in these pages were written in English during the last 60 years, and they typically are from America, England and (occasionally) Ireland. Most of the remaining 10 percent is covered by Shakespeare-festival productions.So, this weekend’s visit to Nevada City by 14 actors from the Maxim Gorky Theatre, performing Anton Chekhov’s
, represents a truly rare opportunity to experience Russian theater professionals staging a play by one of their country’s finest writers, in the original language. (Simultaneous English translation will be transmitted via headphones.) Bringing Ivanov
to Nevada City is the latest in an ongoing exchange program between the Foothill Theatre Company and the Gorky Theatre in Vladivostok.
Few Americans (including this writer) have seen Ivanov. It’s seldom staged in this country. It is Chekhov’s first major play, a portrait of a man at midlife who begins to doubt some of the choices he’s made. Though I have yet to see a full production by the company, I did see some of Gorky Theatre’s leading actors in a bilingual English/Russian performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Grass Valley several years ago. They were simply terrific. Ivanov ought to be the same.