Chekhov Unhinged: Parodies, Comic Oddities, and Fairy Musicals Winter 2024

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As the great writer Leonid Andreev once wrote of the work of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov: “On the stage, Chekhov must be performed not only by human beings, but by drinking glasses and chairs and crickets and military overcoats and engagement rings.” While most people know Chekhov for his realist dramas, he also wrote more bizarre, satirical, and humorous content, including a “joke in one act,” a “scenelet from an unproduced vaudeville,” parodies, sketches, “comic oddities,” and even an excerpt from a “fairy musical.” In this Winter Study course, we will read, discuss, play with, and perform selections from Chekhov’s early sketch comedies, monologues, and lesser known works as a way to appreciate the richness of his artistic sensibility and depth of his humor. What happens when we consider Chekhov as unhinged from reality? What can we discover about his writing, style, theatricality, or politics when we liberate his voice from the stifling confines of the cluttered drawing room? Working as actors, or, if they choose, as writers, students will select material from Chekhov’s more radical canon to enact, or adapt, as a way to engage with this material on our feet. Additionally, focus will be given to the ways Chekhov’s art prompts us to understand ourselves and our own contemporary world in deeper and more complex ways.
The Class: Format: studio; This is a studio class and will involve us collaborating together as actors, makers, and creative practitioners, but students from all levels of experience are welcome! Our goal will be to create, develop, and design a short showcase of work from the "Unhinged Chekhov" to share with an invited audience in the form of a final performance presentation.
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1324
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in class; weekly short writing and journaling exercises; performances of short scenes; collaboration in the development, design, and performance of a final group presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: If overenrolled, preference will go to Theatre majors

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