When: 31st October – 10th November 2018
Where: Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN
£: Tickets cost £15 – £26
What is it?
Dublin’s award-winning Dead Centre fragment and rebuild Chekhov’s earliest work in Chekhov’s First Play, which will be making its London premiere at Battersea Arts Centre’s reborn Grand Hall this autumn.
Chekhov’s First Play takes a wrecking ball to the great playwright and performance itself, with an increasingly fraught director’s commentary delivered over headphones, an unstable set and a largely missing main character.
When he was just 18, Chekhov wrote a play which has long been considered unstageable; it has no title, a huge number of characters, and lasts for more than six hours. The story – about a loose group of friends meeting up, that becomes a chaotic, philosophical lament for a changing world – was never performed during his lifetime.
In Chekhov’s First Play, Dead Centre takes this text as a jumping-off point as they try to take on Chekhov’s ambition: to put the world on stage and see what it looks like. The show combines the action on stage with a director’s commentary presented via headphones, by a director who feels increasingly fraudulent as he watches his production; a group of characters in 19th Century Russia who do very little except eat, drink, talk, and wait for the main character to arrive. However when that character finally arrives, they have no idea what is going on.
Chekhov’s First Play was co-commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre in 2015 and was due to play in its Grand Hall before fire struck the building. Now it finally makes its London premiere as part of the Grand Hall reopening Phoenix Season.
Since premiering in 2015 in Dublin, Chekhov’s First Play has played at theatres and festivals throughout the world, including in Australia, France, Estonia, Germany, Russia, Georgia, Holland, Finland and Italy. It arrives in London direct from runs in Amsterdam, and at the Romanian International Theatre Festival in Bucharest, and was the winner of the 2015 Irish Times Award for Best Sound Design.
Battersea Arts Centre’s Phoenix Season is a five-month celebration of risk-taking and renewal, which includes I’m a Phoenix, Bitch by Bryony Kimmings, Frankenstein by BAC Beatbox Academy, SUPERBLACKMAN by Lekan Lawal, Orpheus by Little Bulb Theatre, the UK Beatbox Championships, and immersive adventure Return to Elm House.
More info: bac.org.uk/chekhov