Chekhov’s Poetry, Wit and Modern Message

November 11, 2011

For its fall production, the Stonehill Theatre Company invited Theresa Lang to be its guest director and the acclaimed theatre historian picked Anton Chekhov's classic "Three Sisters." In the following comments, she explains why the famed Russian dramatist and author remains so relevant.

 There was the artistic challenge, and the idea of launching these students into the enigma of Chekhov's characters and the poetry of his language. Also there was the desire to show the audience a lively and dynamic Chekhov, where it seems that the impression of the Russians is often as heavy, gloomy, and stolid. His dynamic fatalism and sharp wit introduces a different view of Russian life and culture.  I came to Chekhov because there seems to be something profoundly timely about this piece. He wrote about a group of people who were trapped in their own longing. Waiting for life to begin, dreaming of that life symbolized by a Moscow that has grown in idea to an almost mythic status. The contemporary longing is also connected to a way of life, and we are living in a time and place in which old systems are being thrown into question. People are resolute, going through the motions of the life they expected to live, while the systems themselves seem to dissipate.  So how does one navigate this uncertainty, this anxiety, this longing? Sometimes the clues are in unusual places - like century-old Russian masterpieces.

Short Bio: Theresa Lang

A theatre historian, Lang specializes in the censorship of urban space, popular entertainment, and the development of the American theatre. She has taught and directed at Tufts University and Boston College. She has also guest lectured at various universities and has presented at multiple regional and national conferences.

At Stonehill, Lang directed Dario Fo's play "We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!" in spring 2009. She also taught a seminar in Dramaturgy at the College and she is currently mentoring a theatre arts senior, Brianna Wing, as a dramaturg.

Lang is the Regional Chair of Dramaturgy for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and was the Associate Director of the inaugural New Play Dramaturgy Intensive at the Kennedy Center.

She holds a B.A. in Drama from the University of Dallas, an M.A. in Theatre from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Drama from Tufts University.


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