National

Twist on Chekhov play stirs Moscow

Kyodo

Tickets are nearly sold out in Moscow for the Seinendan theater company’s performances, which feature an android and other robots among the cast, of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters.”

Showcasing state-of-the-art Japanese technology, the masterpiece will be performed by Seinendan, led by playwright Oriza Hirata, until Sunday at a theater in central Moscow.

“I feel the pressure” since we’re in Chekhov’s homeland, Hirata said at a news conference in the Russian capital Thursday.

While the play is set in late 19th century Russia, Hirata’s version takes place in a possibly not too distant conceptualization of Japan. An android plays the youngest of the three sisters, and other robots will feature as well. Hirata’s interpretation of the play questions the meaning of life in a futuristic era in which robots are commonplace in households.

“Had Chekhov written a piece in the 21st century, it would have been like this,” Hirata said.

Seinendan has performed the play in Japan, France, Spain and Taiwan. It is part of the Robot Theater Project led by Hirata and scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro, who heads an Osaka University laboratory known for developing cutting-edge androids.