After you read the whole play, reread this scene. Read Character pages in 3sis directory. Print them all.
What do you think about the goal of Chekhov to put the three of them finally together? He even added Natasha's appeareance in the darkness to emphasyze the upcoming climax and the catastrophe.
In order for you to put this scene together, you have to take it apart first. Separate the characters and examine where each of them at this point. We know that Baron would be killed and acceptance him by Irina is irrelavant, she missed it, and maybe now is to die because of it. Her rejection of Solyony, with whom she is love, but fears the strong attraction to him -- he kills Baron as a result. She is broken because she broke the hearts and now live of two men, who love her. Here is the Chekhov's define irony over his heroes' calling for love.
What about Masha? Her love affear with Vershinin is to end. She doesn't love her husband, who is she in love? Maybe with herself?
Olga, who is pushed out by the mistress of the house, Natasha, was serving as a mother and father for three siblings, now to end her live virgin. In my reading she in love with Vershinin, but yelles him to Masha, as she always did. What is the result of her sucrafises for the family. All Prosorovs are lost and destroyed.
Now, how do we express it?
Once again. The big picture and the small details. Remember the lesson on acting areas? Each character must have his or her spot. Where and when do they come together to "their" are? The big long dinner table is the family place, but when there was a family, i.e. with the friends and at happy times. There was a small sofa (loveseat size), where Masha already read her books (the same book), she doesn't live here anymore, but spends most of her time. I wanted to sqiz the three of them in one small place, so they will look like lost children. I left the spot lights on all platforms to make the effect of empty house stronger.
Now, back to overall dramatic composition of the scene. Where is the climax? Where are the climatic moments for each sister? Look at their monologues. Especially for Masha's confession (as if they don't know about her and Vershinin?) She confesses when she lost her love for him, the confession is her attempt to talk herself into what is gone. In fact, this is the resolution opf the scene. Nobody replay, they know that she lost her hope for love too.
I also asked Natasha to show up first without them seeing her -- and then to walk through with the candle to show them who is in charge now. (Motivation, remember?) It gave them the sense of being not in their own house, so they changed the level, whispering and forgetting about it. And Natasha walk through was extended, she "fixes things" -- reoranging the table, taking things with her, killing the candle on the piano.
When they are together, there are several stages (positions) before they get to final composition with Irina on the floor at Olga's feet, who tries to fix her hair, like mother -- and Masha standing behind them. Why this way? I thought that the three levels would hold them as one body in different stages. (See page on Visula Composition).
After you worked with the actors through the text (line-by-line analysis), you must make sure that there is the tempo-rhymth in the scene. Do not enforce the pauses, there must be reasons for pauses. So, when I wanted to stop and listen, I placed the sounds backstage (street).
In directing classes I require my student to have some signs of the people mentioned in the scene. Where is Andrey, what detail represents him? Virshinin? Masha's husband? Baron, Solyony? It hels actors to visualize and us, the spectators, to follow, to remember. You see, each character must have this prop that represents him! The sound of violin was of the Andrey's attributes.
UAF 3 Sisters Cut Scenes and Monologues, Photos by Kade Mendelowitz
Virtual Theatre Project, Fall 1999, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Use in your Acting & Directing Classes for Scene Study!