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Cherry Orchard on the Page

"One of the greatest impediments that contemporary American audiences have to enjoying Chekhov is translation," says Curt Columbus, Steppenwolf's translator for Cherry Orchard. "Many translations tend to be stiff and awkward, like they were never meant to be performed." Backstage thought it would be enlightening to compare a translation from a library textbook with a piece of Columbus's script. These are the results: (textbook translation)
Madame Ranevsky: Can it be me that's sitting here? (laughing) I want to jump and wave my arms about. (pausing and covering her face) Surely I must be dreaming! God knows I love my country. I love it tenderly. I couldn't see out the window from the train, I was crying so. (crying) However, I must drink my coffee. Thank you, Firs; thank you, you dear old man. I'm so glad to find you still alive. Firs: The day before yesterday. Gayef: He's hard of hearing. Lopakin: I've got to be off for Kharkov by the five o'clock train. Such a shame! I wanted to stay and look at you and talk to you. You're as splendid as you ever were. Pishtchik (sighing heavily): Handsomer than ever and dressed like a Parisian. ... Lopakin: Your brother, Leonid Andreyitch, says I'm a snob, a money-grubber. He can say what he likes. I don't care a hang. Only I want you to believe in me as you used to; I want your wonderful, touching eyes to look at me like they used to. Merciful God in heaven! My father was your father's serf, and your grandfather's serf before him; but you, you did so much for me in the old days that I've forgotten everything, and I love you like a sister - more than a sister. Madame Ranevsky: I can't sit still! I can't do it! (jumping up and walking about in great agitation) This happiness is more than I can bear. Laugh at me! I am a fool! (kissing a cupboard) My darling old cupboard! (caressing a table) My dear little table. Gayef: Nurse is dead since you went away. Madame Ranevsky (sitting down and drinking coffee): Yes, Heaven rest her soul. They wrote and told me. Gayef: And Anastasi is dead. Squint-eyed Peter has left us and works in the town at the Police Inspector's now. (takes out a box of sugar candy from his pocket, and begins to eat it) Pishtchik: My daughter Dashenka sent her compliments.
(Columbus's script)
Lovey: Can I really be sitting here? (laughs) I want to jump for joy, wave my arms around. (covers her face in her hands) I'm overwhelmed! Lord knows how I love this country, I love it so much, I couldn't even look out the windows of the train, I kept crying. (through tears) But I really should drink my coffee. Thank you, Firs, thank you, you dear old man. I'm so glad you're still alive. Firs: Day afore yesterday. Gaev: He doesn't hear so well. Lopakin: I'd better go, I have to leave at five this morning for Kharkov. It's a shame! I just want to look at you, to talk with you. You are so magnificent. Pishchik (sighing): Even more beautiful than ever... dressed in the latest Paris fashion. ... Lopakin: Your brother, our Mr. Leon, says that I'm rude, that I'm a hick, but you know, I don't care. Let him talk. I just want you to trust me like you used to, that you'll look at me with your remarkably kind eyes, like before. Merciful God! My father was a slave to your grandfather and to your father. But you, only you have done so much for me, that I've forgotten everything else, and I love you like my own flesh and blood...more even. Lovey: I can't sit still, I'm in such a state...(jumps up and walks around the room excitedly) I won't survive being this happy... You should all laugh at me, I'm being so stupid... My little bookcase, I'm home...(kisses the bookcase) My little table. Gaev: Nanny died while you were gone. Lovey (sits and drinks coffee): Yes, rest in peace. They wrote me. Gaev: And Anastasy died. Petrusha left me and went into town, and now he's a policeman. (takes a little box of fruit candies from his pocket and sucks on one) Pishchik: My daughter, little Dasha, sends you her very best....