Chekov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ opens Wirtz Center’s mainstage winter season

Northwestern Now: Summaries

EVANSTON — Anton Chekhov’s endearing and everlasting tragicomedy — in which a family’s cross-generational dispute about the future of their beloved estate creates a clash between socialism and capitalism, legacy and reality — kicks off the winter mainstage season at Northwestern University’s Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts.This version of the Russian playwright’s “The Cherry Orchard” is based on a literal translation by Allison Horsely and adapted by Stephen Karam, the Tony Award-winning playwright of “The Humans,” who has been cited as “among the very best of his generation of playwrights” by New York Magazine. Directed by MFA directing candidate Hassan Al Rawas, the production runs from Feb. 1 to 10 in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive on the Evanston campus.The Gayev family are sociable, intelligent, caring and hopelessly in debt. Unless they can find the funds, their huge estate, including its renowned cherry orchard, will go to a mortgage auction. The entrepreneurial son of their ex-farmhand offers them a solution, but they balk at his proposal. Racked by indecision and unable to comprehend the huge social changes on the horizon, they spend one last summer on their beautiful country property, conjuring memories of the past to mask their fears of the future.Director Al Rawas relates plot to his own family history. His grandfather was a chocolate maker in Beirut who lived above the factory with his family. Al Rawas, who grew up in Kuwait City, spent his childhood summers in Beirut, which connected him with his larger family and Lebanese identity. To provide financial stability for their father when the chocolate business slowed down, his grandfather’s sons offered to buy the factory.“It wasn’t an ideal ending,” Al Rawas said. “The sons turned the factory into a warehouse, which the grandfather continued to live above and had to witness every day. For …

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