Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Coming Together for "Neva"

Timeline of NEVA
  • 2006 – Premiered with Chile’s Teatro en el Blanco
  • 2006 - Best Play of the year by the Art Critics Circle of Chile
  • 2007 – Altazor Awards for Best Director and Best Playwright.
  • 2008 – Jose Nuez Martin Award given by Catholic University of Chile
  • 2011 – Premiered in the United States, Neva premiered at the inaugural RADAR L.A. Festival.
  • March 2013 – Premiere of a new English translation of Neva premieres at The Public Theater in New York.
  • June 2013 – The new English translation of Neva embarks on a rolling West Coast premiere at three of Southern California’s leading theatre companies: Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory and La Jolla Playhouse. 
  • June 11-16, 2013 – Los Angeles, Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre. 
  • June 19-23, 2013 – Orange County, South Coast Repertory. 
  • June 26-30, 2013 – San Diego County, La Jolla Playhouse
When three of the West Coast’s most celebrated theatre companies come together it must be for a good reason; that reason is Guillermo Calderón’s Neva.  For the first time ever, Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory and La Jolla Playhouse are partnering for an historic collaboration to bring Neva to Southern California audiences.

“After seeing the play we decided on the spot to work together,” says South Coast Repertory’s Artistic Director Marc Masterson.

Calderón’s Neva tells the story of Anton Chekhov’s widow, Olga Knipper, and two fellow actors, huddled in a dimly lit rehearsal room while a revolution happens in the streets outside.  Inside, the actors rehearse and recreate scenes from their own lives and try to find the meaning of art in turbulent times.

Neva is bold, theatrical, funny and fierce—a unique evening of theatre,” says Masterson.  ”By joining forces we are able to bring this exciting new work to audiences throughout Southern California.”

Olga Knipper and Anton Chekhov.
Who is Olga Knipper?

Anton Chekhov is considered among the greatest writers in history, known for his short stories and his classic plays like The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard.  A strong actress captured not only his art but his heart: in 1901 Chekhov and Olga Knipper married and she became a champion of his works for her lifetime.

Neva follows Knipper, newly widowed from Chekhov, in a rehearsal for The Cherry Orchard.  Knipper was an original member of the Moscow Art Theatre.  Originally of German origin, her family moved to Moscow when she was two years old and began claiming Russian as their family heritage.  Growing up in Moscow with her mother, father, and two brothers, she lived a pampered lifestyle.

Knipper was fluent in French, German and English and showed promise as a painter and musician.  However, due to social conventions of the time, it was intended that she be a house wife and not an artist.  After her father’s death and against her mother’s approval, Knipper pursued and found success as a stage actress.  She studied acting with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and through him was introduced to Konstantin Stanislavski.  When Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko founded the Moscow Art Theatre, Knipper was invited to join.

She met her future husband, Anton Chekhov, when she played Chaika in Chekhov’s The Seagull on the opening of the first season of Moscow Art Theatre.  They married in 1901 remained together until Chekhov’s death in 1904; she never remarried.  She also appeared in Chekhov’s plays The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.  She performed with the Moscow Art Theatre throughout her entire acting career and was bestowed with the title of the People's Artist of the Russian Federation. At the time of her death, at age 90, she was the last living original member of Moscow Art Theatre.

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