The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters is a visceral new translation of Anton Chekhov’s original. We are teaming up with director and translator Stepan Simek to premiere this exciting new work. This production will return to the fierce sparseness of the original Russian text and use contemporary performance techniques to illuminate Chekhov’s classic for a 21st Century audience, highlighting questions of individualism, entitlement, community and cooperation.

The play follows the lives of three sisters as they lose their house and sense of home, navigating the personal, cultural and political changes that rocked Russia at the end of the 19th Century. Over one hundred years later, we identify with the very humanness of Chekhov’s figures as they search for meaning in their lives. We recognize a likeness between America’s current plight – economic recession, a disappearing middle class, gridlock in government, a cultural sense of apathy and powerlessness – and the circumstances of Chekhov’s Russia. The world of The Three Sisters is familiar to us. There is a collective sense of anxiety. The characters are stuck between a romantic longing for an unrealistic past and an idealistic dream of the future. They seem to be paralyzed to take any action in the present. The people in this world try desperately to unglue themselves from the floor of their existence, but remain stuck in notions of the way things were or how they should be, rather than seeing how they are.

Employing PETE’s unique actor training and collaborative process, the company will work with Simek to create an English translation that excavates the play from under more than a century of romantic English translations. Informed by the actors’ work in the studio, The Three Sisters will reify the action of the original play as performance event, rather than reproduce a work of literature. Simek’s vast experience as a translator, most notably of the works of Vaclav Havel, paired with PETE’s unique actor training and collaborative process will result in an utterly contemporary text and alive performance.

The Three Sisters is produced in partnership with Reed College and Ronni Lacroute/Willakenzie Estate, with support from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Kinsman Foundation, Lewis & Clark College and the Mellon Foundation.