The Cherry Orchard performance
The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, 2015. Live performance, actor, portrayal of Lyubov Ranevskaya. Photo courtesy of Alessandra Mello.
I took the stage with fellow student actors in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies’ production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, which follows a once-wealthy family during the fall of the Russian aristocracy. Set at the start of the 20th century as Russia nears revolution, The Cherry Orchard centers around the widowed Lyubov Ranevskaya, a declining aristocrat, who returns to her family’s home after years away to find her estate and its cherry orchard up for auction. As an actor, it was a treat to play such a complex character. Though good-natured, Lyubov remains in conflict with the shifting social climate in Russia. She was raised without a sense of the value of money or possessions, so she is extremely frivolous and completely in denial of the magnitude of her debt. She is sweetly sentimental, yet tormented, kind hearted, yet oblivious, and her refusal to acknowledge the status of her affairs is central to the play’s commentary on themes of love, hope, fear, and denial. What must we abandon in order to move forward? And will we be able to look back?