Cherry on top

Elana Zeltser

Performing Arts teacher Christopher Moore walks out of his house carrying a tote bag stuffed with 25 translations of “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov.  He takes his car instead of his usual motorbike to accomodate the load.

When he arrives at school two minutes later, he chooses a version and continues marking lines to include in his own adaptation of this year’s winter play.

“Because I never like to take anything easy for myself, I thought why not challenge myself and create my own version,” Moore said.

Moore, who teaches three classes and produces the fall musical and the annual Playwrights Festival, rarely gets the chance to direct a show.  When he decides to, Moore said that he tries to find a play that is out of his comfort zone.  Last year, Moore had the idea of creating a play out of a collection of short stories written by Chekhov, but as he began reviewing them, he thought otherwise.

“He was a short story writer and a playwright,” Moore said.  “If he wanted these short stories to be plays, he would have written them as plays.”

Moore said the show has themes that are easily accessible, and with at least 15 characters many students can be involved in the production.

“I always like to say that there are no principals or leads—there is just an ensemble,”  Moore said.  ‘And in ‘The Cherry Orchard’ it really is an ensemble.  It is a family.”

Moore said he likes to find different ways to give stage time to as many people as possible.

“I like to include other aspects of of the Performing Arts Department, as well,”  Moore said, “In ‘The Cherry Orchard’ we hear about a Jewish Band twice, so I am going to have four musicians on stage.  That adds more characters to the play.”

While examining versions by various writers, Moore said he felt that each had different interpretations of certain lines and moments.  He set out to combine his favorite subtleties into a final script.

“I researched the entire work,”  Moore said. “The only thing I’m using from [playwright] David Mamet’s adaption is a line from his institution.  It will be fun as it is sort of along the lines of a one -act or a play that is still in the process,” he said.  “Plays are not meant ot be read.”

The production will take place on Feb. 8, 9, 10.

Moore said he hopes to bring humor to a play often considered dramatic.

“People always have this intense idea about Chekhov, but the dude was funny,” Moore said.