Far Away in the Orchard
Duration: 90 Minutes
Child (age 12) - Noah Diaz
Russian Woman (age 60) - Mary Kelly
Man #1 - Sean Carlson
Man #2 - Andrew Keffer
Lecturer - Craig Martin
A Stranger - Vincent Carlson
Speaker #1 (prerecorded English) - Kevin Bensley
Speaker #2 (prerecorded English) - Sonia Keffer
Speaker #3 (prerecorded Russian) - Victoria Boylan
Speaker #4 (prerecorded English) - Kevin Bensley
Stage Crew - Alexandria Cogan, Michaela Kocanda, and Jacob Pankowski
Visual Layer 1: General work lights. Stage set—scrim along back of stage. Pile of dirt center stage. Table and chair stage right. Pile of dirt equals height of the table. Pie of unspecified fruit and fork and cucumber and pitcher of water are on the table. Bucket upstage right next to table. Small television downstage left next to table. Podium with glass of water down stage left. Small table with pitcher of water stage right next to the podium. Three canvass drop cloths cover the stage, beneath the items above, creating three distinct playing areas. Downstage center a small television/VCR unit, playing School House Rock video (no sound) on a constant loop.
Auditory Layer 1: Preshow—Recorded airport gate sounds (i.e. announcements, pages, general conversation, children screaming, luggage handling, etc.)
Visual Layer 2: A small boy or girl enters theatre via same entrance as audience. Steps on stage, unplugging and picking up the television running the School House Rock video. Elderly stereotypical Russian woman comes from backstage carrying a bucket of vegetables, yelling (in Russian) after the child. The child exits house right. She addresses audience briefly (in Russian), then exits up stage right. House lights should begin a very slow fade to black during visual layer 2.
Auditory Layer 2A: Airport sounds slowly fade as boy or girl enters in visual layer 2. The sound should be totally gone by the time the Russian woman enters.
Auditory Layer 2B: Elderly Russian woman from Visual Layer 2 yelling, then speaking.
Visual Layer 3: General work lights turn off—blackout.
Auditory Layer 3: During blackout—pre-recorded Russian text begins very softly, maintaining its level throughout the play, never getting louder, never softer. The Russian text is the original Russian script’s stage directions. Although it may be drowned out by other sound during the play, it never stops or changes volume. It is the base/background for all else. The pace of the Russian text is also constant—slower than other spoken texts. It plods ever so slowly and softly in its foreign female voice.
Visual Layer 4: Very strong flashlight or handheld light from backstage depths, illuminating four to six mannequin figures behind the scrim. Other lighting elements illuminate the figures as well—random and uneven. The light sources vary and move slowly throughout the play. The silhouettes are not sharp images but rather projected by multiple light sources, which shift slowly throughout the production—barely perceptible.
Visual Layer 5: Man sitting at table holding the fork in his right hand’s fist—skinhead/T- shirt/jeans/boots/dog-collar. Man sitting on floor at TV by table. Both become visible by way of residual light from Visual Layer 4.
Visual Layer 6: The TV is turned on, illuminating even more. The man at the table stares at the table before him. The man at the television stares deeply into the TV
Visual Layer 7: Strong, diffused light from stage right come on, creating long shadows across the stage. The shadows tower stage left. Just as these lights begin to come up, a lecturer arrives from the theatre entrance with briefcase/jacket/tie/collared shirt/glasses/ suit/nice shoes/scarf. He situates himself at podium. Drinks water. Pours water. Adjusts notes. He turns a reading lamp on, which lights his face from the top of the podium. He drinks water. He reads from notes.
Auditory Layer 4A: The lecturer begins speaking his text. At the same time, the main pre- recorded text begins. Focus should ebb back and forth between the two, controlled by the lecturer. His volume varies pushing and pulling focus. The lecturer is the only source of emotion in the play. He is opinionated, authoritarian and aloof. The pre-recorded deep male voice maintains its pace/volume (both pace and volume are three times louder and faster than the female Russian voice). There is never any emotion in the pre-recorded English text. It plods at its own unemotional pace.
Auditory Layer 4B: Live speakers (1 male/1 female), speak via microphoned and amplified sound. The volume should remain constant for both, one level below pre- recorded English text. The male voice (baritone) mimics the pre-recorded male (bass) voice, but is one-half of a beat behind. The live male voice should appear to be speaking simultaneously, but just a bit off. The female voice (alto) mimics the pre-recorded male (bass) voice, but is one-half of a beat ahead and she speaks without articles or verbs, making her pace much slower than that of her male counterparts. Both live and recorded voices are without emotion. Between the three voices (bass, baritone, alto) there should be a textured overlapping.
Visual Layer 8: As the English texts begin, man #1 sitting at the table fixes his eyes on the pie. Eventually he will make his move to begin eating. The process is slow and tortuous as he forces each bite, never stopping until the end of the play when the lights fade. He may pause to catch breath, spit, drool, vomit, but is compelled to eat till lights fade. Man #2 never stops watching the glowing screen.
<<Prerecorded voices and lecturer text happen simultaneously here. The prerecorded voices are a combination of the original Russian text, the stage direction only (English) in multiple overlapping layers, and the stage direction without articles or verbs (English). The lecturer text is a combination of personal journal entry and structural critical text from the work of John Tullock.>>
Auditory Layer 5: Speakers 1, 2, and 4 stop and the Lecturer mimes his speech until the Stranger has exited completely.
Visual Layer 9: The man at the table momentarily stops eating—food and saliva drip. He looks out to the audience throughout the following scene. Long pause. The Stranger emerges from the pile stage left, wearing an old white soldier’s cap and an overcoat. He is somewhat drunk. He stumbles down stage center to face upstage. Unlike the stage direction text, the following scene is presented with intention and emotion. The only actor physically present is the Stranger, while the other actors are portrayed only by the voices of the two live speakers.
STRANGER: Excuse me. But tell me, can I go through this way straight to the station?
GAYEV (speaker #1): Certainly, just stay on this road.
STRANGER: I thank you very much, Sir. (He coughs.) Beautiful weather we’re having. (Declaiming.) “Oh brother, oh poor suffering brother, go to the Volga, where your groans…” Mademoiselle, will you give a hungry Russian thirty kopecks? (Varya [speaker #2] cries out, scared.)
LOPAKHIN (speaker #1): (Angrily) Really, that’s enough.
LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA (speaker #2): (Frightened, hurriedly.) Here, this is for you. (Searching frantically.) No silver. It doesn’t matter. Take a gold piece.
STRANGER: Thank you very much, Madame. Much obliged to you, Madame. (He goes out laughing.)
Auditory Layer 6: The Stranger exits laughing.
Visual Layer 10: The man sitting at the table looks after him only after he has exited, then looks again to the pie and resumes eating. The Lecturer takes a sip of water.
Auditory Layer 7: The Lecturer begins speaking out loud again as the stranger’s laughter trails. The pre-recorded voice and live voices begin again as well.
<<prerecorded speakers and lecturer resume until completed. Lecturer repeats his final line several times>>
Lecturer: Lopakhin has a creative vision, of a new life evolving as the unproductive orchard is replaced by gardens where people grow things. In place of the decayed old order and their orchard where beauty hides stagnation…In place of the decayed old order and their orchard where beauty hides stagnation…In place of the decayed old order and their orchard where beauty hides stagnation…In place of the decayed old order and their orchard where beauty hides stagnation…In place of the decayed old order and their orchard where beauty hides stagnation…
Visual Layer 11: Three beats after the final line as the lecturer is taking his final drink, all the lights fade quickly, as if a plug was pulled.
Auditory Layer 8: The Russian voice slowly fades in the blackness.