ABOUT THE THREE SISTERS:
"The Three Sisters" is a memory play. To me,it is about revisiting a single moment of choice which changes the direction of one's life forever.
Structurally, all four acts contain many of the same actions, even some of the same lines. The secret of "The Three Sisters" in performance is that the characters change over time, not Chekhov's narrative; thus the same beats repeat in an ever more frenetic whirl. All of the characters are bound by human nature to repeat and repeat and repeat a lesson until it is learned – just like Francesca and Palo, the courtly lovers in Dante's "Inferno", who are forever destined to relive, day after day, the very moment they kissed and transgressed their courtly love.
Each time Olga, Masha, and Irina approach a moment in which a different choice could heal and redeem their lives, each repeats her mistake. They are unable NOT to let doubt and fear and isolation imprison them once again (just like Francesca and Palo are unable NOT to kiss) and the cycle repeats through eternity. Dante said "The double pain of a lost bliss is to relive its happiest moment in sadness". This line became the leitmotif of our "Three Sisters".
The first act is an awakening, still covered in dust, full of sunlight and hope of a different outcome. The second act, ripeness itself, finds the characters sensing the inevitability of repetition as they try to bury this understanding. The third act, the most naturalistic, is a desperate flailing against fate; sweaty, alienated, lost from an opportunity to re-write history, the characters are trapped animals, terrified and exhausted.
A good playwright gives you three good acts; the greatness of Chekhov is in his fourth acts – usually set a long time after the preceding action, in this case two years. Peace has been made. There is understanding, forgiveness, and a gentle prayer for redemption, knowing that the cycle is about to begin again. It is Fall, leaves exploding in crimsons, yellow ochres and burnt umbers. Leaves using up every last ounce of life in glorious color, before life starts again.