American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
CHEKHOVIAN COMEDY. SERIOUSLY.
Once upon a time, there was a young Russian playwright who wanted to make his audience laugh. Of course, in true Chekhovian fashion, all five of the stories in this collection harbor the full spectrum of human emotions and foibles – life and legacy; marriage and moving on. Each with its own unique rating on the comedic Richter scale, from thoughtful to gleeful to full-on funny. Each with an eye for the bright pieces of humanity that live within us all. Five exquisite stories tied together by Anton Chekhov himself (a character created by the inimitable Aaron Posner), and featuring a full cast of Core Company actors. There are just north of a dozen opportunities to see this captivating collection of tales, and we expect the demand to be high. Plan ahead, and don’t delay. Runs August 4 - October 6.
Sometimes, Russian comedy isn’t so much comedy in the traditional sense (just ask anyone who’s seen The Seagull). That said, Anton Chekhov had a phase in his youth where everything seemed very funny indeed – even when the topics are serious ones: the complexities of love and life; of marriage and moving on. Adapted by award-winning playwright and regular stage director at APT, Aaron Posner, who weaves the pieces together with an original work of fiction featuring Chekhov himself.
Casting subject to change
Review: In 'Anton's Shorts' at APT, Chekhov characters are larger than life by Lindsay Christians, The Cap Times
August 14, 2023
Feature: A Look Inside Anton's Shorts" - Maybe the Funniest Chekhov You'll Ever See by Gwendolyn Rice
August 11, 2023
What comes after epiphany?
From what I can tell, it depends on where the epiphany takes place: in a story we witness, or in the course of our own actual lives. Because there’s a difference, isn’t there? So often the stories we consume casually hinge so much on the Hero’s moment of perspective-altering insight that you could say the story itself is built entirely in service of this one moment. The moment the Hero finally realizes that the person she’s been up until now is not the person who will finally shake free of the trouble she’s been in since the opening credits or Lights up; that in order to progress in whatever way is required next, she’ll need to change something, significantly. Whether to act upon this insight will be obvious, and using the burst of energy a colossal revelation provides, she’ll launch herself toward a final battle with her antagonist, and in the process realize that this villain’s key attribute and That Part of Herself She Possesses Deep Inside But Has Been Neglecting All This Time are one and the same. She’ll adopt that attribute fully, fight with everything she has, and win. The story is now complete because the Hero is now complete. Clean.
But that’s not actually how that happens, is it?
In real life, what follows revelation — the kind that could potentially lead to a life changing completely — is anything but clean. What actually follows is messier, more difficult, more doubtful, more paralyzingly fearful. What follows epiphany in real life is avoidance if we can still afford it and outright self-deception if we still have the option. Why? Because the next coherent thought that follows life-changing epiphany, even one that reveals to us the source of our own obsolete habits and unbearable pain, is: Wait. I don’t want to change my life. That sounds complicated and hard.
Because it is. Anton Chekhov — both the real author and the one of Posner-ian creation you’ll meet tonight — understood this; the gap between how epiphanies are treated in the stories we so often tell ourselves and the version that bears a closer resemblance to how they appear in our actual lives: time-consuming and coursing a more ambivalent path than our schedules and attention spans would tolerate as a spectator.
But waiting in these plays are people, not unlike ourselves, in various proximity to their own life-changing epiphanies. These revelations aren’t clean nor always obvious to them; and when they are visible, they’re not always welcomed with open arms. These are Heroes that don’t always win. Perhaps that’s why they’ll all look familiar, though in a way we may not be eager to admit at first.
Yet, that is this author’s unique gift. Anton had the ability to illustrate Humanity with such accuracy that its nature becomes visible in a way we can’t unsee — surely the result of an epiphany that hit him early while writing short stories, short plays, and vaudevilles, and perhaps the channel through which we’re afforded our own epiphanies when watching his work. I am absurd. But so are we all.
And that’s a great joke.
- Jake Penner, Director of Anton's Shorts