This one act play was first performed by Tommy Lee Jones, Stockard Channing and Alvin Epstein on the main stage of the American Repertory Company in Cambridge MA on 22 February 1999
The following is intended to be performed script in hand as the actors read letters to each other. Three actors are involved: for Anton Chekhov, Olga Knipper, and Alexander Vishnievski, a childhood friend and schoolmate of Chekhov who by this time - the turn of the 20th century - had become one of the actors in the Moscow Art Theatre. All the actors have a chair, possibly a table on which to rest their scripts, but small enough to allow them to stand up and address the audience. The two principals are downstage left and right, and Vishnievski upstage centre. Vishnievski has some article of clothing, say a peaked cap, which he puts on when he is acting as a telegraph operator.
When writing each other letters, the two principals do not look at each other since they are not in the same place or the same time; they only get up when writing to the audience or to mark the moments of heightened tension, for instance, during exchanges of telegrams, when they may harrass the telegraphist direct.
When this script was read at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge MA, USA, by Tommy Lee Jones, Stockard Channing and Alvin Epstein, directed by Daniel Selznick, for a Poets' Theatre benefit on 22 February 1999, the adaptor, Dominick Jones, made the following brief introduction, which a new director might wish to incorporate into programme notes:
What you are going to hear are some of the love letters written by a great writer, Anton Chekhov, to his future wife, Olga Knipper. At the time, he was turning forty. She was eight years younger. She was of German Jewish descent, and one of the founding actors of the Moscow Art Theatre.
Now, a great deal can be said about the theatre and its two founders, Nemirovich and Stanislavski, but, I am going to restrict myself to the use of their names this evening. You will also hear about Masha, who was Chekhov's devoted and unmarried sister. She promoted Olga Knipper to her brother, although she was later to rue the consequences.
When I was adapting these letters, one other character kept on interfering to such an extent that I was obliged to let him into my script. I might as well let him take over at this stage (quietly slips off stage while Vishnievski takes over)
If you would be interested in seeing the full script of this low budget single act play, please let me know.