The Orchard was all white (1999)

“The performance The Garden was white is a reconstructed modern version of Anthony Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. In The Garden was white, the Bal Theater (Danish) and Verk Produksjoner (Norwegian) give Chekov’s play from the 1800s a timeless frame. The reproduction puts together pieces of the realistic drama in such a way that the play simultaneously cultivates the mood of Checkov and indirectly makes a comment on the theater as a form of art. The garden was white creates a juicy and liberating theater expression that is just as tasty as big cherries.” Morgenbladet 24.September 1999 Grete Indal. Read review here. 

The starting point for this performance is Anton Chechov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” However, the time and the original social context in the play have been changed.

Four actors find themselves alone in a strongly illuminated room. The four persons can only remember bits and pieces of their lives.

They are caught in an abyss between their own personal lives and the time in which the original characters lived. The actors can remember something about a cherry orchard and an estate which was involved in a foreclosure, but they cannot remember who said what or why.

The room resembles a tv-studio, or a religious scene or even one of the rooms in a Beckett play. The room is totally white, a lit-up floating white garden. Only some Russian winter coats lead historically or geographically towards something concrete.

The themes in the performance rotate around the search for identity and the difficulties in being understood. All of the actors speak in the third person singular to illustrate that they are unable to communicate. The playful experiment with the time-change between the present and the past and the memory lapses gives the play a meta dimension and creates havoc with the actors’ own identities.

For us, Chechov’s play is fascinating, not because it is dramatic, but because it has situations and atmosphere which is ideally suited to the theater. He presents his characters with a rare mixture of love and cynicism.

The sun had risen, the chill was gone. The trees were wonderful. The starlings sang. The garden was all white. The long alley continued in a straight line, straight like a stretched band and it reflected the light from the moon. Could she remember that? She had not forgotten. Oh, her garden, her pure innocence. She had slept in this room. She had looked out in the garden, happiness had awakened with her every morning and that time the garden had been just like that, oh her garden.

Supported by Norsk Kulturråd, Statens Teaterråd(DK), Oslo kommune.

Produsent: Bal // Verk
Instruktør: Thomas Storm
Dramaturg: Henrik Vestergaard Pedersen
Kirsebærhaven: Anton Tjechov®
Tekstbearbeidelse: Gritt Uldall-Jessen

Scenografi: Joachim Hamoe, Hans Henrik Madsen
Komponist: Jørgen Knudsen Kostyme: Anne Mette Juul, Bente Bredsted

Skuespillere: Saila Hyttinen, Oskar Skulstad, Anders Mossling, Fredrik Hannestad.

Touring: Svenborg. Århus, København, Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Ålesund, Porsgrunn, Kristiansand, Mandal, Hildesheim, Wien, Odense

Forestillingen er morsom i sin absurditet – og den formår at anslå strenge i mit sind, som jeg end ikke vidste var spændt opp til spil!

Fyns Amts Avis 10. Marts 1999. v/ Iben Friis Jensen

“….på samme måde mener jeg det forholder sig med Balteatret/Verk Produksjons Haven var helt hvid: Tjechovs tekst passer så godt ind i deres performanceteater æstetik, at snarere end blot en genskabelse kommer forestillingen på mange måder til at forløse Kirsebærhaven’s tematik og dramaturgi bedre end en mere traditionel opsætning. Og fordi teksten passer så godt i forhold til Balteatret/Verk Produksjons æstetik, kan det tillades at teksten bliver styrende og jeg vil mene, at det i Haven var helt hvid’s tilfælde kan hævdes, at Tjechovs tekst (gen)skaber forestillingen i lige så stor grad som forestillingen genskaber teksten.”

An analysis of The Orchard was all white, written by Kjetil Sandvik, ph.d-stipendiat at Institut for Dramatrugi, Århus Universitet. Link here. (only in Danish)

Comment to the analysis of The Orchard was all white, written by Kjetil Sandvik: Haven var helt hvid (remix), Af Henrik Vestergaard Pedersen. Read here. 

The Orchard was all white (1999) / Verk Produksjoner from verkproduksjoner on Vimeo.

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