Stage giants fight to save Chekhov villa - News - Theatre & Dance - The Independent

Stage giants fight to save Chekhov villa

Stoppard, Frayn and Branagh in campaign to stop the great writer's house falling into disrepair

Leading British playwrights and actors are mounting a campaign to save the Crimean villa where Anton Chekhov wrote some of his most important works, including Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. The building is being allowed to fall into ruin because of tension between the Russian and Ukrainian governments, it is claimed.

The White Dacha, perched on a hill in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, was built for Chekhov after he moved south from Moscow in 1898, seeking a warmer climate in the hope that it might ease his tuberculosis. Although unhappy for most of his five and a half years in the Crimea – pining, like many of his characters, to get back to Moscow – it was here that he wrote his two last plays, considered among his greatest.

The house is of particular interest, because it has been preserved in exactly the same condition in which Chekhov left it, two months before his death in 1904. But after years of neglect, subsidence and rising damp are taking their toll: cracks have appeared in the walls, portions of ceiling have collapsed and mould is spreading. Water has begun to pour into the attic, causing damage to Chekhov's study and drawing room.

Sir Tom Stoppard, Michael Frayn, Kenneth Branagh and Ralph Fiennes are among supporters of the campaign to save the White Dacha, launched at the Pushkin House Anglo-Russian society in London last week by the the Chekhov scholar and biographer Rosamund Bartlett.

After the playwright's death, his sister Masha scrupulously looked after the house. She refused to be evacuated during the Second World War, and forebade Nazi soldiers to occupy her brother's rooms. Since her death in 1957 it has been run as a museum. Vladimir Putin visited in 2003, leaving his visiting card but no donation.

The dacha began to deteriorate after Crimea became a part of Ukraine, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Russian government stopped providing the grants that had kept the house open to the public. The cash-strapped Ministry of Culture and Arts of the Autonomous Crimean Republic, under whose jurisdiction it now falls, says it has no duty to provide funds because Chekhov was Russian, not Ukrainian.

"The Ukrainians really should be supporting this house, it's so important," said Alexander Walsh, one of the campaigners. "It's a tragedy that [the government's] nationalist agenda seems to preclude doing so." The campaign hopes to raise enough money to restore the house by 2010, the 150th anniversary of Chekhov's birth.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Arts and Entertainment
Queen Christina left the judges baffled with her audition
X Factor
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week