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The play opened on January 17, 1904, the playwright's birthday, at the Moscow Art Theatre under the direction of actor-director Constantin Stanislavski. During rehearsals, the entire structure of Act Two was re-written (to include the passer-by and the twang from the string dying away to empathise the audience with the mining disaster of the time). Famously contrary to Chekhov's wishes, Stanislavski's version was, by and large, a tragedy. Chekhov disliked the Stanislavski production intensely, concluding that Stanislavski had "ruined" his play, which was in turn under-rehearsed (the Moscow Arts Theatre only rehearsing it for six months, unlike the common practise to rehearse for 18 months, or even more). In one of many letters on the subject, Chekhov would complain, "Anya, I fear, should not have any sort of tearful tone... Not once does my Anya cry, nowhere do I speak of a tearful tone, in the second act there are tears in their eyes, but the tone is happy, lively. Why did you speak in your telegram about so many tears in my play? Where are they? ... Often you will find the words "through tears," but I am describing only the expression on their faces, not tears. And in the second act there is no graveyard."
The modest and newly-urbanized audiences attending pre-revolutionary performances at S. V. Panin's People's House in Saint Petersburg reportedly cheered as the cherry orchard was felled onstage.
The playwright's wife Olga Knipper played Madame Ranevskaya in the original Moscow Art Theatre production, as well as in the 300th production of the play by the theatre in 1943.
A 1925 production at the Oxford Playhouse by J. B. Fagan and a 1934 production at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London directed by Tyrone Guthrie and translated by Hubert Butler were among the first English-language productions of the play.
A television version featuring Helen Hayes as Ranevskaya, and Susan Strasberg as Anya, directed by Daniel Petrie, was broadcast as part of the Play of the Week television series in 1959.
The Royal Shakespeare Company/BBC TV, black and white, Peggy Ashcroft plays Ranevskaya, Ian Holm plays Trofimov, John Gielgud Gayev, Judi Dench Anya, Dorothy Tutin Varya, production by Michel Saint-Denis, directed by Michael Elliott, 1962, released on DVD by BBC Worldwide Ltd 2009.
A production starring Irene Worth as Ranevskaya, Raul Julia as Lopakhin, Mary Beth Hurt as Anya and Meryl Streep as Dunyasha, directed by Andrei Şerban and featuring Tony Award-winning costumes and set by Santo Loquasto, opened at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1977.
A production directed by Peter Hall, translated by Michael Frayn and starring Dorothy Tutin as Ranevskaya, Albert Finney as Lopakhin, Ben Kingsley as Trofimov and Ralph Richardson as Firs, appeared at the Royal National Theatre in London in 1978 to nearly universal acclaim. A minimalist production directed by Peter Gill opened at the Riverside Studios in London also in 1978, to good reviews.
In 1981, Peter Brook mounted a production in French (La Cérisaie) with an international cast including Brook's wife Natasha Parry as Ranevskaya, Niels Arestrup as Lopakhin, and Michael Piccoli as Gayev. The production was remounted at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1988 after tours through Africa and the Middle East.
Also in 1981, the BBC produced a version for British television by Trevor Griffiths from a translation by Helen Rappaport and directed by Richard Eyre. Instead of her 1962 BBC role as daughter Anya, Judi Dench here played the mother Ranevskaya to Bill Paterson's Lopakhin, Anton Lesser as Trofimov, Frederick Treves as Gayev, Anna Massey as Charlotta, and a 24-year-old Timothy Spall as Yepikhodov.
A film version starring Charlotte Rampling as Ranevskaya, Alan Bates as Gayev, Owen Teale as Lopakhin, Melanie Lynskey as Dunyasha and Gerard Butler as Yasha, directed by Michael Cacoyannis, appeared in 1999. zando
An L.A. Theatre Works recorded version of the play was produced in 2002 starring Marsha Mason, Charles Durning, Hector Elizondo, and Jennifer Tilly. Others in the cast were Jordan Baker, Jon Chardiet, Michael Cristofer, Tim DeKay, Jeffrey Jones, Christy Keef, Amy Pietz, and Joey Slotnick.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, Illinois) performed a version that was translated by Associate Artistic Director Curt Columbus and directed by ensemble member Tina Landau. The play premiered on November 4, 2004 and ran until March 5, 2005 at the Upstairs Theatre. Appearing in the performance were Robert Breuler, Francis Guinan, Amy Morton, Yasen Peyankov, Rondi Reed, Anne Adams, Guy Adkins, Chaon Cross, Leonard Kraft, Julian Martinez, Ned Noyes, Elizabeth Rich, Ben Viccellio, and Chris Yonan.
The Atlantic Theatre Company (New York, New York) in 2005 mounted a new adaptation of The Cherry Orchard by Tom Donaghy, where much more of the comedy was present as the playwright had originally intended.
A new production of the play starring Annette Bening as Ranevskaya and Alfred Molina as Lopakhin, translated by Martin Sherman and directed by Sean Mathias opened at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in February 2006.
The Huntington Theatre Company at Boston University produced a version in January 2007 using Richard Nelson's translation, directed by Nicholas Martin with Kate Burton as Madame Ranevskaya, Joyce Van Patten as Charlotta Ivanovna, and Dick Latessa as Firs.
Jonathan Miller directed the play in March–April 2007 at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, England. The play represents Miller's return to the British stage after nearly a decade away and stars Joanna Lumley as Ranevskaya.
Libby Appel adapted and directed the play in 2007 for her farewell season as artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, Oregon). The new translation, based on an original literal translation by Allison Horsley, is considered to be "strongly Americanized".
A version of the play was performed as the opening production on the Chichester Festival Theatre Stage in May–June 2008, with a cast including Dame Diana Rigg, Frank Finlay, Natalie Cassidy, Jemma Redgrave and Maureen Lipman.
In 2009, a new version of the play by Tom Stoppard was performed as the first production of The Bridge Project, a partnership between North American and UK theatres. The play ran at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Sam Mendes directed the production with a cast including Simon Russell Beale, Sinéad Cusack, Richard Easton, Rebecca Hall and Ethan Hawke.
A brand new adaptation of the play was produced by the Blackeyed Theatre in spring 2009 as a UK tour, with a cast of four.
In September 2009, a new adaptation of the play by Stuart Paterson was produced at the Dundee Repertory Theatre with guest director Vladimir Bouchler.
A new translation of the play in Punjabi was performed in September 2009 by the students of Theatre Art Department of Punjabi University, Patiala, India.
A version of the play in Afrikaans was performed in late September 2009 by students of the Department of Drama at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
A new adaption was commissioned by the Brighton Festival and performed by the dreamthinkspeak group. They renovated the old co-op home-store on the London Road using the whole store as a stage. They renamed it Before I Sleep and said it was inspired by the original play. It received positive reviews from both The Guardian and The Independent newspapers. It was funded by Arts Council England, National Lottery and a long list of other Brighton and Hove based businesses.
In April 2010 at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh the Scottish playwright John Byrne staged a new version of the play as a Scottish 'social comedy', taking place in 1979 Scotland.
The Royal National Theatre, London, staged a new version starring Zoë Wanamaker from May to August 2011, reuniting director Howard Davies with writer Andrew Upton, which was also shown at cinemas internationally through National Theatre Live.
The Eastern Bohemian Theatre, Pardubice, Czechia. Directed by Petr Novotný (director). Translated by Leoš Suchařípa. Starring: Jindra Janoušková (Ranevskaya), Petra Tenorová (Anya), Kristina Jelínková (Varya), Zdeněk Rumpík (Gayev), Jiří Kalužný (Lopakhin), Miloslav Tichý (Trofimov), Martin Mejzlík (Simeonov-Pishchik), Lída Vlášková (Charlotte), Ladislav Špiner (Yepikhodov), Martina Sikorová (Dunyasha), Václav Dušek (Firs), Jan Musil (Yasha), Radek Žák (Stationmaster), Alexandr Postler (Stranger). The play had a premiere October 16 and 17, 201, at 7 pm and last performance had January 14, 2012.
The Vinohrady Theatre, Prague. Directed by Vladimír Morávek. Starring Dagmar Veškrnová-Havlová, Jiřina Jirásková (Charlotte), Viktor Preiss, Pavla Tomicová, Martin Stropnický, Lucie Juřičková, Svatopluk Skopal, Andrea Elsnerová, Pavel Batěk, Ilja Racek, Martin Zahálka, Jiří Dvořák, jiří Žák. The play had premiere February 5, 2008.
The Komorní scéna Aréna, Ostrava. Directed by Ivan Krejčí. Starring Alena Sasínová-Polarczyk, Tereza Dočkalová, Petra Kocmanová, Norbert Lichý, Josef Kaluža, Michal Čapka, Dušan Škubal, Dana Fialková, Michal Moučka, Tereza Cisovská, Pavel Cisovský, Albert Čuba, Marek Cisovský, René Šmotek. The play had premiere March 21, 2009.
The Theatre Workshop of Nantucket staged a new adaptation and translation of Chekhov's Cherry Orchard set on Nantucket in 1972. The play premiered September 14, 2012. It was directed by Anne Breeding and Gregory Stroud, and translated and adapted by Gregory Stroud.