Our production of Three Sisters was invited to close this summer’s Edinburgh International Festival. It’s the first time the A.R.T. has performed at Edinburgh since 1982 (when we were there with Andrei Serban’s Sganarelle), also the first time for several years that we’ve toured a show of this scale. There are forty of us from A.R.T. all staying in one hotel – actors, stage crew, technicians, administrators, as well as the director Krystian Lupa, his costume designer and interpreter – and the atmosphere at breakfast is like summer camp.
Edinburgh is a glorious city at any time, but in August it’s electric. There are several major festivals running concurrently, including the Fringe, which this year contains more than 2,000 productions from around the world. The streets are packed with performers and audiences, and the theatres are overflowing – the eight-show run of Three Sisters is, gratifyingly, already more or less sold out.
It’s been strange and wonderful watching Three Sisters again. Strange because the King’s Theatre, where the show is performing, couldn’t be less like the Loeb Drama Center, and the production feels very different in its new home. The King’s is a rather faded, though still grand, 1,200 seat proscenium house with a stage so narrow that we’ve had to take 8’ out of the set to make it fit. This makes the Prosorovs’ house seem rather narrow and cramped, while at the Loeb it felt deliberately too large for its inhabitants and their furniture. But Krystian seems very pleased with the remount, and the actors’ performances continue to grow richer and more layered, more than a year after they began rehearsing together. I love this production, and it has been amazing to meet it again after eight months – a rare reprieve from the graveyard of memory where most shows finish up. Even after ten or fifteen viewings, Krystian’s work continues to reveal new patterns and complexities; tonight I was particularly struck by the way he can combine naturalistic and abstract, painterly elements in a single scene. For the most part audiences have been fantastic, though there has been a certain amount of complaining in the lobbies and the press about hearing Chekhov in American accents, which is pretty silly.
We’ve just learned that this weekend Krystian will be awarded a Festival Angel for the production. A fitting end to a very proud week for the A.R.T.