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July 15, 2010

Saying Goodbye to The Cherry Orchard (Part One) – Gregory Prest

Gregory Prest

Gregory Prest and Karen Rae in The Cherry Orchard. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann.

Gregory Prest is a graduate of the National Theatre School and has performed for Tarragon Theatre, Next Stage, and the Canadian Opera Company.

My name is Gregory Prest and I’m a part of the Soulpepper Academy. On and off for the past 15 months or so, we have been working with Daniel Brooks in an exploration of Chekhov’s last play The Cherry Orchard, culminating in a 10 show run in the Tankhouse as part of the Lab Series. Trying to explain the process would be like showing you a photo of my extended family and trying to convey to you the delicate nature of the hundreds of relationships among people who, to you, are strangers. So I’ve decided to do something else.

I’ve compiled a list of thirteen thoughts, observations and things I have learned from my time working with Daniel, the group, the audience and The Cherry Orchard in no particular order. The first half of the list is below, and part two will be posted tomorrow:

1. It’s more challenging to say yes than to say no. No keeps you secure in what you know. Yes is risky.

2. People like their Chekhov like they like their eggs. I worked in a restaurant for a few years and if there is one thing that people are very particular about – almost severe – it’s their eggs.

3. When things work onstage and the magic happens – time stops.

4. Never get attached to anything. Especially feelings. A discovery is made in rehearsal or in front of an audience – it’s a magic moment that changes you. We think, “I have solved the riddle of the Sphinx.” Then we have to repeat it. And of course you can’t repeat it exactly because it will never FEEL the same way. You think, “I’ve lost it. The audience won’t believe me because it doesn’t feel as true as when I found it.” Then we spend too much energy trying to find what a moment felt like when it would be a better use of energy to assess what you were attempting to do when the ‘magic’ happened. Always go back to what created the opportunity for that discovery not to what that moment felt like.

5. Nothing is personal – but it’s always personal.

6. There is no one right way to do things – but there are many incorrect ways of doing things. They are incorrect when the choices do not serve the story.