The Cherry Orchard in the Cherry Orchard

Author: Bobo Jelčić
In cooperation with actors: Jerko Marčić, Marko Makovičić, Jadranka Đokić, Ugo Korani, Petra Svrtan i Lana Meniga
Production: de facto

The project arose as a response to the new situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the inability of the theater to work in the same conditions as before. Since communication takes place entirely on the Internet, there is a need to explore new possibilities for performing and creating plays, and doesn’t refer to the mere reproduction of already recorded plays from theater archives, which are usually not recorded with the idea of being shown to the audience.

The online performance is based on the play “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Focus is on the key characters of the play, the orchard owners who are no longer able to manage the property its inevitable decay and sale, and their unavoidable conversations on how to save it. The performance explores the form of conference conversation, in which the main characters never meet live. Fate of their Cherry orchard, and even their future, takes place on a virtual level. Due to the limitations of the conference call, the characters are literally deprived of action. More simply, they are “not” physically in the Orchard, and the Orchard is being sold.

This performance in a virtual, digital space is a kind of pioneering experiment in using theatrical form and rules, and their mixing with the film genre and its form, as well as the limitations of the software used.

The audience in this medium is also a field of research in this project because it is more exposed and present than in the classical theatrical sense. The voyeur position of the spectator is increased and open to the possibility of a more active participation in the performance. The position and role of the audience is equated with that of the performer: they are not divided by the predetermined space of the stage and the audience, and the possibilities of the conference video chat platform allow the full active involvement in the performance. Thus the responsibility of the individual viewer grows in the ability to take that step. Performance can vary and develop, which can grow into a collective act of solving a personal and social problem of the moment, and making it unnecessary to create any theatrical actualization of the theme making it close to the audience by exposing both the audience and the performer with direct mutual views into the camera of their computer.

One of the themes addressed in this play is the passivity manifested in the characters, who, although called upon to react to a crisis situation, do not. Their problem is big but everyone pretends that there is no problem or that someone not connected with them will solve it. With that the immaturity and inability of the main characters to cope with the real existential problem is emphasized.

The sale and decay of the property in “The Cherry Orchard”, i.e. the change caused by the disintegration of a social class in tsarist Russia, reflects the moment of disorientation in the “new normal” and violent attempt to make the world work according to established routine.


February 1, 2021