Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chekhov’s White Dacha in Disarray

Due to his diagnosis of tuberculosis in 1899, Chekhov left Melikhovo (in southern Russia) for the warmer climes of Yalta (in the Ukraine). The playwright had a distinctive house, known as the ‘White Dacha’ designed for him by Leo Shapovalov. Chekhov stayed in the house until 1904, where he wrote two of his most famous plays, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. The dacha became a museum in 1921 and contains many of Chekhov’s belongings. Unfortunately today the house is in shambles. The heating was turned off in 2005, and due to the harsh winters by the sea, mold has set in and the roof is leaking. Scholar and translator, Dr. Rosamund Bartlett, has started the Yalta Chekhov campaign to save the dacha, and has already won the support of Tom Stoppard, Michael Frayn, Kenneth Branagh and Ralph Fiennes. The campaign aims to raise enough money to return the dacha to the condition in which Chekhov left it. The aim of the Yalta Chekhov campaign is to have restoration work complete by the 150th anniversary of Chekhov's birth, in January 2010. Why won’t the Russian or Ukrainian governments cover the expenses? As always, politics. The Russians don’t want to pay for something that’s in the Ukraine and the Ukrainians don’t want to pay for something that promotes a Russian writer. Read more about it here in a ‘Guardian’ article.

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