Several Lambs were invited to Moscow to perform The Lambs Theater Lab version of Chekhov’s The Proposal, which has performed many times in our 5th floor quarters. Specifically, the event was held at Melikhovo, Chekhov’s estate. Under the direction of Boy Peter Kingsley, Lamb Annette Berning and Nicolas Baumgartner, accompanied by photographer Brent Katz, headed off to Russia. Below is Peter Kingsley’s report along with video and photos. The Russian hosts were presented with a Lambs pennant, and they presented Mr. Kingsley and The Lambs a plaque commemorating our participation, which will be displayed in our 5th floor.
On May 17, 2019, The Lambs Theatre Lab landed in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport. Annette Berning, Nico Baumgartner, Brent Katz and I were met at the airport by Sergey Fatyanov from the Chekhov Museum’s 20th Theatre Festival. The adventure had begun.
We were driven into central Moscow to pick up Australian stage director Aubrey Mellor, then 50 miles out of town to Chekhov’s estate Melikhovo. Here we were met by Museum director Mikhail Ivanovich Golovan for a personal tour of Chekhov’s house and some of the buildings on the 540 acre estate.
Then off we went to set up the stage for our performance on one of the festival’s indoor performance spaces.
Next day was performance day. We had a full house of about 100 seats and the reception was warm and boisterous. Of all the performances, Aubrey reports, ours was only one of three to garner a standing ovation. Russians in general have great respect for actors and acting beyond star worship in part because the live stage is more respected there than here, and Russian playwrights and poets are officially worshipped. When was the last time you saw a statue in the park of Tennessee Williams or a bust of Arthur Miller?
The very next morning we were rounded up and driven to an old Young Pioneer’s summer camp dating back to time of the Soviet Union. Here we three actors faced a ‘jury’ of Russian intellectuals, artists, and actors who each individually told us what they liked and what they didn’t about our little production.
What came across most clearly was a great appreciation for ‘the process’ we had followed in performing Chekhov. The generosity and spirit of adventure which had led us to this moment of sharing our love and respect for the genius of the master writer Chekhov was also much commented upon. With tears in his eyes Mikhail embraced me afterwards.
I witnessed several of the other productions but as they were in Russian it was not always easy to follow the action. But the main goal of the theatre lab had been accomplished for The Lambs had successfully planted its flag on foreign soil, and those who acted in doing so and those who had observed us doing it will never forget it.
— Peter Kingsley