Anton Chekhov’s plays have been a mainstay on Goodman Theatre’s various stages throughout its history. Since becoming Artistic Director in 1986, Robert Falls has not only directed several productions of Chekhov’s plays, but has also championed a variety of modern adaptations of the playwright’s works.
1931 – Chekhov’s work makes its Goodman Theatre debut via a production of THE SEAGULL, translated and directed by Maurice Gnesin. Russian-born and trained, Gnesin came to the Goodman a year earlier as a faculty member of the Goodman School of Drama. In 1932, he became Goodman’s Artistic Director and the head of the School, a position he held until his death in 1957.
1933 – Gnesin directs his own translation of THREE SISTERS, a production he also remounted in 1941.
1944 – Gnesin’s translation of THE SEAGULL returns to the Goodman stage in a student production featuring a young freshman actor, Geraldine Page. The production was directed by David Itkin, another Russian expatriate who joined the Goodman staff and School faculty in 1929. Itkin would become one of the premier acting teachers in the country during his 25-year tenure.
1951 – A triple bill of Chekhov one-acts (including SWANSONG, THE BOOR and THE PROPOSAL) is presented by Goodman School students in the Studio Theatre.
1956 – In their final season at the Goodman, Itkin directs Gnesin’s translation of THE CHERRY ORCHARD.
1961 – Director Alan Schneider’s production of UNCLE VANYA (translated by Stark Young) features Broadway and film star Walter Abel in the title role.
1963 – Revered Russian-born stage actor Eugenie Leontovich joins the Goodman School of Drama faculty, co-directing the Tyrone Guthrie/ Leonard Kipnis adaptation of THE THREE SISTERS with Charles McGaw, head of the School’s acting program.
1974 – The Guthrie/Kipnis adaptation of THE CHERRY ORCHARD opens the 1974/1975 Season with noted British actor/ director Brian Murray at the helm.
1977 – Goodman Associate Artistic Director (and director of the landmark Goodman Stage 2 series) Gregory Mosher brings a contemporary take to THE SEAGULL, in a much-heralded adaptation by Jean-Claude van Itallie. Mosher took over as the Goodman’s Artistic Director the next season.
1985 – Following their Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning collaboration on Glengarry Glen Ross, Mosher and playwright David Mamet collaborate on a new version of THE CHERRY ORCHARD, created for the New Company, the short-lived resident acting company of the Goodman.
1986 – After directing the acclaimed premiere in New York, and just months prior to being named Goodman’s new Artistic Director, Robert Falls unites a group of A-list playwrights including Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein, Spalding Gray, María Irene Fornés, Michael Weller and Samm-Art Williams for ORCHARDS, seven short plays inspired by Chekhov’s short stories.
1990 – Shortly before beginning his 11-season, Emmy Award-nominated run on Frasier, John Mahoney stars as the title character in Goodman Associate Director Michael Maggio’s production of UNCLE VANYA, in Mamet’s adaptation. Maggio’s production also featured rising star Linda Emond as Sonya.
1994 – Falls directs THREE SISTERS (adapted by Richard Nelson) in a production featuring future famous faces such as Bruce Norris, Jenny Bacon and Calista Flockhart, just prior to her run as the title character on the television series Ally McBeal.
2002 – Artistic Associate Regina Taylor sets The Seagull in modern-day Georgia with DROWNING CROW, starring Suzzanne Douglas, Chester Gregory, Nambi E. Kelley and Ernest Perry, Jr. Following its Goodman run, Drowning Crow appeared on Broadway in 2004. Taylor also staged a modern adaptation of The Cherry Orchard with 2009’s MAGNOLIA.
2010 – In preparation to direct THE SEAGULL, Robert Falls immerses himself in the rehearsal techniques of Chekhov’s frequent director Konstantin Stanislavsky. The result was a triumphant production, featuring uncommonly rich performances from such Chicago stalwarts as Mary Beth Fisher, Francis Guinan and Cliff Chamberlain.
2011 – Playwright Tanya Saracho (now a writer for How to Get Away With Murder) presents a loose adaptation of The Cherry Orchard entitled EL NOGALAR, with the classic story now taking place against the backdrop of Mexico’s drug wars.
2015 – Goodman Producer Steve Scott directs Christopher Durang’s comic ode to Chekhov, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. The Tony Award-winning play, set in modern day Pennsylvania, follows the antics of a group of dysfunctional adult siblings, all inspired by characters from Chekhov’s works
2017 – For his 30th anniversary at the Goodman, Robert Falls directs UNCLE VANYA.