Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: "Nothing happens" : Chekhov's plays on the British stage 1909-1996
Author: Allen, David Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 0684
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 1996
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
When Chekhov's plays were first performed in Britain, they provoked a mixture of bewilderment and derision. What was so shocking was the apparent absence of dramatic form. It was almost as if, J. B. Priestley wrote, Chekhov had read some textbooks on how to write plays, and then done the opposite of everything they recommended. Raymond Williams has argued that Chekhov created a form so original it seemed "in constant danger of breaking down, " and another kind of art had to be invented to "sustain it. " It was as if Chekhov only seemed to offer "fragments", and the form, and meaning,h ad to be actively constructed. The key figure in this process is Stanislavski. The "solutions" which the director found have shaped our understanding of Chekhov's work. All subsequent productions of Chekhov, to some extent, have fallen under Stanislavski's shadow. In England, Stanislavski's methods reached us particularly through the work of directors such as Komisarjevsky and Michel Saint-Denis.The acceptance of Chekhov's work in England was a process of assimilation and appropriation. In the 1920s, he was embraced by Bloomsbury set, who saw in his work a mirror of their own melancholy. Finally, in the 'thirties, he was turned into a popular "West End" dramatist. But in the process, he was changed. He was anglicised. The unfamiliar became familiar ; the disturbing became comfortable. The "dominant" mode of production and interpretation turned the plays into exercises in "decaying gentility. " In recent years, there have been a number of attempts to "rediscover" Chekhov in England. The thesis concludes by looking at the work of five practitioners, who have sought, in different (and contrasting) ways, to re-examine the form and meaning of the plays. They are all, to some extent, defining themselves and working against the "dominant" tradition. Thus, the process of "rediscovering" Chekhov is also, to some extent, a response to "history"--an attempt to come to terms with the legacy of Chekhov on the English stage. Total number of words in thesis : 93,619
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available