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Hampstead hosts Chekhov celebration

Reporter: Matthew Amer, first published Tue 01 Dec 2009 17:19

Michael Pennington, Simon Russell Beale, Eileen Atkins, Rosamund Pike and Penelope Wilton are among the performers who will help Hampstead theatre mark Anton Chekhov’s 150th birthday in January.

As part of A Jubilee For Anton Chekhov, for a week between 18 and 23 January the theatre in Swiss Cottage will present a different show each evening, with writers discussing their favourite Chekhov pieces and actors reading them. The short season of tributes is also to include Pennington’s one man show Anton Chekhov, which premiered at the National Theatre in 1984 and has since toured the globe.

Money raised from the week’s events will be used to help restore the White Dacha, where Chekhov wrote Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. It is a cause Pennington has been campaigning for since October 2008: “Anton Chekhov's house in Yalta is in a parlous condition; a casualty of disagreements between Ukraine and Russia. The trees he planted could suffer the same fate as the trees in The Cherry Orchard.  I know of no writer's house that more tenderly reflects the character of its owner, so we must raise some money to save it. Judging from the names lined up for our Hampstead week it's a popular cause, and since it is, near enough, his 150th birthday as well, it'll be a Chekhovian occasion; apprehensive about the future, but comic and full of hope.”

A Jubilee For Anton Chekhov opens 2010 for the Hampstead theatre, following Christmas productions Charlie And Lola’s Best Bestest Play and ghost story Darker Shores. The theatre, which is yet to name its successor to Anthony Clark, who leaves his position as Artistic Director in the new year, also hosts two new plays from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Dunsinane and The God’s Weep, next spring.


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