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Friday, Feb. 10, 2012

Popular Chekhov play gets fresh treatment for audiences in Tokyo

Staff writer

Despite being 112 years old, Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's "Three Sisters" is still one of the most popular translated plays to be staged in Japan.

The drama, which centers on a declining upper-class family in rapidly modernizing Russia, has resonated well with Japanese audiences, and many domestic troupes have produced versions of the play here.

The Bungakuza theater group, set to stage the classic for their first time in 31 years, uses a newly translated script in modern Japanese while retaining the essence of Chekhov, according to stage director Yoshisada Sakaguchi. "The challenge is how to treat the many hidden stories involving the characters that barely get brought to the surface."

The attraction of "Three Sisters," Sakaguchi adds, also lies in Chekhov's delicate depiction of the final act, where the Prozorov family sisters manage to find the strength to live on even though they have lost everything — their house, a lover and a husband-to-be.

"It sends the message that, while it's not easy to change society or people's way of thinking, we must live on."

"Three Sisters" will be staged from Feb. 10-19 at 2 p.m. and/or 7 p.m. at Kinokuniya Hall in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Tickets cost ¥6,000 for adults and ¥3,800 for those aged 25 and younger. Tickets for night shows on Feb. 10 and Feb. 13 cost ¥5,000. The production is in Japanese. For more information, visit www.bungakuza.com (Japanese).

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