My Two Sisters is a two person adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. The piece is about 35 minutes long and can be performed anywhere with two chairs. There is original piano music composed and performed by Paul Carlson live or recorded. The adaptation tells the story of Irina, the youngest of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, as she returns to the family home on her 80th birthday. Irina looks back as she tries to understand the meaning of the events that shaped her life. An unrequited love, regret, guilt, and intense longing combine in memory in this evocative, romantic, and emotional retelling of Chekhov’s play.
Notes from the director, writer and actor, Jennifer McCray Rincon:
So our first project is Chekhov. I was first introduced to Chekhov in 1977 in a class at Yale University with the great Chekhov director, Nikos Psacharopoulos. Chekhov and Nikos changed my life that year and really for the rest of my life. I wanted to be an actress and I became a director in Nikos’ classes. Nikos said that Chekhov simply wrote about how hard it is to live and what we do to go on living. And the way Chekhov communicated this was through behavior. With Nikos and Chekhov I learned how to create behavior onstage through a detailed specific understanding of the writing. Then at the Yale School of Drama in 1984 I met Earle Gister and worked again on Chekhov for the whole first year of my training. I learned Earle’s famous five questions and worked every day on all of Chekhov’s plays. So most of us in professional theatre have studied and worked on Chekhov in learning about technique. American acting, psychological and action based, comes to us through Stanislavski in some way or another and he was of course Chekhov’s director. So in starting Visionbox I wanted a project that would help communicate my beliefs about training.
Then there is the story itself and our particular production and adaptation. I love Chekhov but have rarely seen or been involved with a production I really liked. The plays are long and hard. But I have seen work in class that is extraordinary. So this version of Three Sisters is 35 minutes long. And does not rely on technology to tell the story. It gets back to the actor and the script. The simple moment to moment thinking and behavior that is the beauty of Chekhov. The character in need, struggling to understand how to go on living and doing it with humor, compassion and hope.
In my years as Head of Acting at the National Theatre Conservatory I saw 18 classes of second year students create and perform a solo Shakespeare project. These projects were extraordinary. A student would take one character from Shakespeare and write, direct and perform a solo piece anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes in length. I always wanted to do one myself. “My Two Sisters” is my version of those 18 years of projects and represents my 33 year relationship with Chekhov.
I finished writing “My Two Sisters” on September 28, 2010. My mother’s 78th birthday. I did not know then that that would be mother’s last birthday. My daughter, Catalina, took her out to dinner and she had her favorite, chocolate cake. “My Two Sisters” is dedicated to my mother. She gave me my education, my love of learning and teaching, and supported my passion for theatre all of her life.