January 29: the 150th birthday of Anton Chekhov. One of my heroes and a hero to all of us who love the theatre. A truly great man,and in just about every way, as an artist and an man, though being a great man was never part of his agenda. Though a fanatic for getting the details just right, he avoided the "big" questions about art and life.
As for art, he said, "If you were to ask me why I like Shakespeare and do not like Zlttovratsky, I would be unable to answer. Maybe in time I will grow wise, I'll acquire a criterios, but in the meanwhile all discussions on what is and is not artistic wear me out."
As for the meaning of life, he said that was like asking the meaning of a carrot. "What is a carrot? A carrot is a carrot and nothing more is known about it"
Chekhov's plays are the benchmark for their true-to-lifeness, which means his stage is a kind of carrot patch, full of people who are bright, ordinary and mysterious.
Speaking of carrots, I am reminded of another hero, for whom the carrot stands as the sweetness of life.
Will we celebrate the momentous occasion of this150th birthday with a Chekhov play next season? Yes we will! We surely will. Will Bugs Bunny make an appearance in the Chekhov carrot patch? Well, this being THEATREWORKS, you never can tell.
Here's a scolding letter he wrote to a lazy brother about what it means to be truly civilized. Few of us are; but he was.
Download Chekhov letter