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Andrei in his room





I remember approaching the role of Andrei my sophomore year of college, and being startled by the mass of pressures he felt - pressure to find love, fill the absence of the dead patriarch, enlist in the duties of a mature life. Instead he retreats, indulges in gambling, confides in men who can't hear him, and dreams of a life outside the walls of the home he inherits. Some themes I was eager to explore during this project were, of course the obvious - isolation - but in rebellion to the Stanislavskian tradition, meta-theatrics and surveillance. The Moscow Art Theatre's legacy cemented 4th-wall realism as theatrical default in the West. The vast history of experimental work born out of Chekhov's plays proves these characters also need space to breathe in the opposite. What happens when these characters are announced rather than observed, see beyond the fourth wall and into the audience. Are they confronted with what they're ignoring? Imagine my thrill when, upon digging into Three Sisters' production history, Chekhov proposes the play as a vaudeville.  --- Another facet I wanted to explore, inseparable from the zeitgeists of 2020 and 1901, are the insufferable frustration, yet pure reliance, humans have on their routines. In 2020, when all notions of stability and normalcy were ripped away, humans rushed to create their virtual imitations. In Andrei, I see a person flailing to find normalcy in the pressures, both self-inflicted and brought upon him by what-has-always-been, by tradition. At the end of the play, he curses all the complacency surrounding him: beer, naps, roast goose.

--- These days I too feel trapped in my room, running in circles, napping away time, waiting for the world to welcome me back. I so desperately want to unravel this melancholy, but how? Andrei had a hard time finding that, too.

Ballad of Andrei DEMOseeing andrei
00:00 / 03:13

The Ballad of Andrei


Come and listen round, there's a sad tale to hear

It's about Andrei Prozorov, Andryushchanchik


His father was a general (he died last year)

His mother gone a decade ago (she got very sick)


He has three sisters:





And two children as well:

     Bobik and (questionably) Sofya


Tonight he's going gambling with zero money

and when he rolls the dice it's promised to be quite funny

Just like his sisters, his yearning is really highbrow

        He only wants to hop onto the next train to Moscow

How, Andrei, how

     can you throw all your family's fortune away?

     How, Andrei, how

              can you teach in Moscow when you eat

                      yogurt all day?


              How, Andrei, how

                           can you throw away your whole life in one night?


                                                                                    What about your wife?

Dear Dad, 


Things have felt so empty since you died. Masha has almost stopped eating and shut herself in her room. Irina has been very giggly all of a sudden. Olga is fine -- cooking a lot. She has also burned a lot of smelly herbs in order to rid the house of spirits. It’s ironic because I know you don’t believe in that and I know I certainly don’t.


I’ve taken a break from my usual work like you asked. I am sitting at my desk and can hear the dry Russian breeze of spring. The moon is really bright. Your funeral was so cold for May, uncomfortable really. Sleet. It was an intimate crowd.


I always knew you would die before us, but I never thought it would be so soon. Maybe past 50, but I’m so surprised. When I was a little kid, I still remember the days in Moscow before Olga was born. I would sit on your lap while you played the piano and punch your belly to see how tough you were. I remember watching Mama cook her potato soup with dried beef and see you dip your finger in the pot and taste it and then she would smack your finger away and I thought that was so funny. I always imagined you two growing gray together, in that Tolstoy way, with long beards and wrinkles in a rocking chair. I saw myself getting older and looking like you and becoming a general like you, too. 


There is this feeling I’ve been contemplating lately. They might have a word for it in Spanish or Romanian or one of those romantic languages, but it’s this feeling I can only call Immediate Life. I’m not sure - I’ll work on it. It’s this feeling when you see where you are in your Life, and Immediately know, that this place, this precise moment you are currently in, that you have thought about being in this position before. 


I always knew you and mama would die. I always wondered what I would do then. What would be passed onto me. That concept, that memory though was only ever theoretical, flimsy in my mind. But here I sit in front of all my books and with my pen in my hand quivering with the earthshattering revelation that I am right here. In this moment. I am sitting in this moment of such gravity, the loss that pulls me down, and I feel my past memories telling me it is my turn to act quickly, take power, move. And a part of me tells myself to just breathe for a second. And a part of me wants to so deeply fall into the Earth and not have to deal with the intricacies of an estate, with the little voices of how other people in town and eventually Moscow will perceive me as the new owner of the estate. I wish it could all be over too. And there is a part of me that is very, very jealous of you and mother. It is a paralyzing envy. 


But what can I do? 


I hear Chebutykin snoring. I listen to the wind. I flit up my eyes and piles of books confront me, here on my desk. Tomorrow will be a new day and there is work to do. I want things to become clearer. Maybe that’s why men like you take joy in the military, there is so much clarity in a gun. 


I love you deeply, father. You have taught me so much. I am so scared I will disappoint you. 


On the bright side, now that you and mother are gone I can finally pretend to stop believing that praying works. I do feel your souls, though. In the whistling of the kettle and Olga’s bootsteps. 

I see you too mom. Oh my god how I miss your pierogies. Maybe I’ll learn how to play piano. Maybe I’ll  find a bride. 


I’m getting tired. 


Goodbye    dad. 


Love           Andryushka

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I lost my project todaymatthew as andrei
00:00 / 00:24


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Magical Realism
00:00 / 03:59
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