Acting Chekhov: “in mourning for my life”

Excerpt from The Actor’s Chekhov: Nikos Psacharopoulos and the Company of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, on the Plays of Anton Chekhov:

Olympia Dukakis:

I remember my brother and I came to New York when I was in college and saw The Sea Gull with Maureen Stapleton as Masha. That was the one with Mira Rostova as Nina. And in this production, when Nina said to Trigorin, “Do you think I ought to be an actress,” people in the audience, more than one, yelled, “No!” Unbelievable!

But in that production, Stapleton was, like, on the edge. I still remember the very first cross she made across the proscenium, trailed by Medvedenko, just barely enduring him, and finally he says the line, “Why do you always wear black?” And she says, “I’m in mourning for my life.” She said this like: “Oh my God, I’ve got this creep following me, asking me questions!” You could see that it was funny, but underneath there was a motor running, the clock was running here. Time is running out on these people.

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