Jessica Hecht, Melanie Moore, Mikhail Baryshnikov and More Star in CHEKHOVOS/AN EXPERIMENTAL GAME/

This interactive theater experience is inspired by Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and drawing from recordings of Chekhov’s letters and dreams.

By: Apr. 29, 2021
Jessica Hecht, Melanie Moore, Mikhail Baryshnikov and More Star in CHEKHOVOS/AN EXPERIMENTAL GAME/

UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance will co-present Arlekin Players Theatre's chekhovOS /an experimental game/, the latest workshop from (zero-G) on Sunday, May 23 at 5 p.m. PDT. For more information on engaging with or supporting the arts and artists presented by CAP UCLA, visit support CAP UCLA.

The project will be co-presented from May to June by local, national, and international partners from the worlds of theater and gaming, including ArtsEmerson, Boston Fig, Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation, International Online Theatre Festival (IOTF)/Theatre Times, ShowOne Productions (Canada), Snowrunner Productions, with special charity screenings in Europe and the US in partnership with the charity founded by Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova, Gift of Life in the UK and Podari. Life in the US, all hosted on ZeroGravity.ART.

chekhovOS /an experimental game/, is a performance experiment in development by Arlekin Players Theatre's founder and director Igor Golyak, who has been a leading innovator of virtual theater since the start of the pandemic. Golyak's latest work fuses film, theater, and video game technology to create a New Medium where viewers are able to interact with the performers. Inspired by Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and drawing from recordings of Chekhov's letters and dreams, this interactive online theater experience accesses the operating system behind both Chekhov's computer and the world in which his characters live, searching for happiness.

"The post-pandemic theater has to reexamine and reimagine itself. Through this experiment we are finding out how humankind can find each other in the virtual while continuing to treasure the in-person encounter, which makes for a new kind of site-specific theater," says Golyak. "And I find myself in constant dialogue with The Cherry Orchard-during a time of loss and recovery, it helps us explore connection, transition, loss, and the human yearning for happiness. We are grateful to our co-presenters for sharing this internationally with a broader audience and for the opportunity to do so on the incredible .ART platform. It is thrilling to be developing work in this new genre with these visionary partners."

"We are proud to continue our partnership with Igor Golyak and Arlekin Players Theatre over the past year as they quickly reinvented themselves with imaginative, timely online theater projects like State vs. Natasha Banina, which we presented last August, and now chekhovOS /an experimental game/. They are doing important work using traditional Russian theater approaches while exploring technologies to create a new form of theater in their new (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to share this latest project with our audiences." says David C. Howse, Executive Director, ArtsEmerson.

Arlekin has also announced a new partnership between .ART, the Art World's Digital Domain, and Arlekin's Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab. Beginning with chekhovOS /an experimental game/, (zero-G)'s virtual theatre productions will be hosted on .ART at the address ZeroGravity.ART as the two companies work together to cultivate an international hub for a virtual theater performance.

"We are pleased today to announce our new partnership with Arlekin's Zero Gravity (zero-G) Lab. As the world shut down a year ago in the midst of the global pandemic, artists and the creative community, especially the ones in the live arts such as theatre, dance and music, had to reinvent themselves. Arlekin Players Theater didn't shy away from the occasion. Instead, they converted their black box into the Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab and they are now a world leader in digital theater innovation. We are excited to invent and innovate with them as this new genre continues to develop." says Ulvi Kasimov, Founder of .ART and nominee ART POWER 50 by Observer.

The cast of chekhovOS /an experimental game/ comprises a cadre of well-known stage, television, and film actors including Tony-Nominee Jessica Hecht, who performs the iconic role of Ranevskaya. Hecht says, "I have been longing to explore The Cherry Orchard with Igor and our company in a way that gives us the most intimate and relatable portrait of a family in crisis. I believe we can create something raw and modern, without losing an authenticity to Chekhov's vision."

The presentation also features other celebrated performers, including Anna Baryshnikov (Apple TV+'s Dickinson) as Varya; Arlekin's Darya Denisova as Natasha Prozorov; Boston's Anna Bortnick as Charlotta, Jeffrey Hayenga (The Elephant Man) as Fiers; Melanie Moore (Finding Neverland, So You Think You Can Dance) as Anya; Mark Nelson (Angels in America, The Invention of Love) as Gaev; and acclaimed Boston-based actor Nael Nacer as Lopakhin. Baryshnikov Arts Center Founder and Artistic Director Mikhail Baryshnikov makes a special appearance in the role of Anton Chekhov. The work was developed and filmed, in part, at Baryshnikov Arts Center in January with strict adherence to COVID health and safety protocols.

chekhovOS /an experimental game/ is a work-in-progress created during the pandemic, a way for artists to work through the themes of the play, the encroaching virus, and a moment of change in the world around us. The project was developed in the new and emerging genre of virtual theater at Arlekin's (zero-G) from a small but mighty group of collaborators, helmed by Igor Golyak. This international team of designers and technical engineers collaborated with Golyak both virtually and onsite in Arlekin's new Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Performance Lab in Needham, MA for several months to create the functionality and online environment for this project, which includes software support from Aximmetry Technologies Ltd., the official software provider for Arlekin's Zero Gravity Lab and a new platform called "The Soft Layer" from Will Brierly of Snowrunner Productions, with back-end/design work from Vladimir Gusev, Anna Fedorova, and Anton Nikolaev.

This experimental sharing constitutes Phase One of a larger hybrid (live/virtual) chekhovOS project in development for 2022 and is made possible with generous support from producing sponsor .ART, ArtsEmerson, Baryshnikov Arts Center, BroadBand Collaborative, Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation, Fooksman Family Foundation, Meghan Coleman, Robin Hanley, ZiphyCare, gifts from Arlekin's Zero Gravity Kickstarter Campaign and Aximmetry Technologies Ltd., the official software provider for Arlekin's Zero Gravity (zero-G) Lab.