The Major Plays

“Let the things that happen on stage be just as complex yet just as simple as they are in life. For instance, people are having a meal, just having a meal, but at the same time their happiness is being created, or their lives are being smashed up.” Thus Chekhov summed up the credo that finds expression in the subtle construction and electrically charged atmosphere of his plays. In these portrayals of human beings trapped in a stultifying weakness as by the greed of others, the most casual words and everyday actions assume the import of acts of destiny. Tragedy is mingled with farce, protest wars with a resignation, in a moral affirmation – an affirmation that stands as the final mark and measure of Chekhov’s art. As Robert Brustein declares: “…in the modern theater…there are none who bring the drama to a higher realization of its human role.”

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