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Hampstead Theatre Hosts Jubilee for Chekhov

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Hampstead Theatre is staging a week-long Jubilee for Anton Chekhov in order to celebrate the Russian playwright's 150th birthday and raise money to restore the White Dacha, the house in Yalta where he wrote some of his best-known plays.

Hosted by Michael Pennington and leading Chekhov specialist Rosamund Bartlett, it runs from 18 to 23 January 2010, with each evening featuring a different selection of works. Writers will also discuss their favourite Chekhov stories and actors will read them; Pennington will perform his one man show Anton Chekhov; and Richard Eyre will direct extracts from Chekhov's major plays.

Special guests participating in the celebration include: Eileen Atkins, Simon Russell Beale, William Boyd, Richard Eyre, William Fiennes, Michael Frayn, David Hare, David Horovitch, Steve McNeil, Miriam Margolyes, Rosamund Pike, Lynne Truss and Penelope Wilton.

The White Dacha in Yalta, which has been a museum since 1921, recently lost its state funding and has fallen into serious disrepair. It was the house where Chekhov wrote Three Sisters (1900) and The Cherry Orchard (1903), and hosted guests including Sergei Rachmaninov and Maxim Gorky.

Michael Pennington, who has been campaigning for the White Dacha since October 2008 and has visited the house, said: “Anton Chekhov's house in Yalta is in a parlous condition - a casualty of disagreements between Ukraine and Russia. The trees he planted could suffer the same fate as the trees in The Cherry Orchard

“I know of no writer's house that more tenderly reflects the character of its owner, so we must raise some money to save it.  Judging from the names lined up for our Hampstead week it's a popular cause, and since it is, near enough, his 150th birthday as well, it'll be a Chekhovian occasion - apprehensive about the future, but comic and full of hope.”

For a full schedule of events see www.hampsteadtheatre.com


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