Thursday, November 02, 2006

Chekhov alive and reading at Barnes & Noble

In 2004, the fabulous Improv Everywhere troupe staged a reading at the Union Square Barnes & Noble by a real, living Anton Chekhov:
I decided to take Agent White's "Meet Anton Chekov" pitch one step further, and stage a reading by Chekov, pretending to be a part of the Barnes and Noble "Meet the Writers" series. After staking out several downtown Barnes and Noble locations, I chose Union Square as our target. The "Meet the Writers" area on the fourth floor was the perfect setting. It features a large stage with podium in front of a seating area with around 150 seats. Customers tend to sit in the area and read quietly when there is no presentation happening; we would have a captive audience.
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After I finished my first short story, the crowed applauded. I then told the following anecdote:

Under Communists in Russia I could not talk to my friends like I am talking to you, my friends. KGB was everywhere. If you went to restaurant to eat and talk the waiter was probably KGB. If you went to library to talk, then librarian went, “Shhhhh…” [holding two fingers in front of my lips]. And, if librarian did not say to shush, she [I cupped my hand around my ear as if to hear a whisper] was listening because she was KGB. The only safe place to walk and talk was the one place nobody was listening or watching… the graveyard.

I then began to read “In the Graveyard”.

...a handful of folks ... noticed the first sentence on the back cover of the play which read, "The Cherry Orchard was first produced on Chekov's last birthday in January 29, 1904. This meant exactly 100 years and one month had passed since his "last birthday". I informed anyone who brought up this point that it was in fact a "very embarassing typo" made by Dover Publications.