Ivanov hardly knows himself any more. After university he was full of initiative: he wanted to be a social activist, advocate reform and combat the backwardness of the provinces. Now he has lost all his energy and he doesn’t know where it went or why. Five years ago he married Anna, a rich Jewess who gave up everything for him: her faith, her inheritance, her relationship with her parents. Anna is ill with tuberculosis but Ivanov has no money for her treatment: he is in debt and he lacks the strength to change that in any away. He tries to take his mind off this by visiting his friend and creditor Lebedev. Lebedev’s daughter Sasha is young, passionate and free-thinking. She is convinced that her love for Ivanov will be enough to put him back on his feet again. He can break free!
The wedding is planned for one year after Anna’s death. But there are rumours going around. People say that it was Ivanov’s irresponsible behaviour that drove his wife to her death and that he is only marrying the wealthy Sasha to be able to be able to revive his debt-ridden estate. Ivanov finds himself intolerable and ridiculous. He wants to call off all his plans. But when this attempt also fails, there is only one way left open to him to avoid ruining Sasha’s life as well as his own…
Life in all its absurdity
Ivanov is the world-famous dramatist Anton Chekhov (1860 – 1904)’s first play. What makes it fascinating is the major theme that also dominates all his later works: human life in all its absurdity, its ridiculousness, sadness and irresistibility. Ivanov symbolises a reluctance we can still appreciate today to take control of one’s own life. The fact that he has an attractive and erotic effect on those around him makes Ivanov one of the most exciting characters of classical drama.
People like Ivanov don’t solve any questions – they break down under the burden of them
Chekhov reworked this play several times. Ultimately he summed up his anti-hero: “Ivanov is exhausted. He doesn’t understand himself but this has nothing to do with life. It makes its own legitimate demands of him and, whether he wants to or not, he has to solve these questions.” Although: “people like Ivanov don’t solve any questions – they break down under the burden of them.”
Artistic Director Johan Simons directs this great play that is both tragedy and comedy with Jens Harzer in the title role. Harzer can still be seen at Schauspielhaus Bochum as Achilles in Penthesilea (director: Johan Simons). He has won many awards, has twice been Actor of the Year and in 2019 he succeeded Bruno Ganz as holder of the prestigious Iffland Ring.
Deutsch mit englischen Übertiteln.
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