Chebutykin, from Three Sisters

From Three Sisters (1900) by Anton Chekhov (as translated by Elisaveta Fen):

ACT THREE

[Chebutykin enters; walking firmly and soberly they crosses the room, stops, looks round, then goes to the wash-stand and begins to wash their* hands]

The devil take them all… all the lot of them! They think I can treat anything just because I’m a doctor, but I know positively nothing at all. I’ve forgotten everything I used to know. I remember nothing, positively nothing… The devil take them! Last Wednesday I attended a woman at Zasyp. She died, and it’s all my fault that she did die. Yes… I used to know a thing or two twenty five years ago, but now I don’t remember anything. Not a thing! Perhaps I’m not a man at all, but I just imagine that I’ve got hands and feet and a head. Perhaps I don’t exist at all, and I only imagine that I’m walking about and eating and sleeping. [Weeps.] Oh, if only I could simply stop existing! [Stops crying, glumly.] God knows… The other day they were talking about Shakespeare and Voltaire at the club. … I haven’t read either, never read a single line of either, but I tried to make out by my expression that I had. The others did the same. How petty it all is! How despicable! And then suddenly I thought of the woman I killed on Wednesday. It all came back to me, and I felt such a swine, so sick of myself that I went and got drunk…

Context: *Chebutykin is traditionally cast as ‘male’. He is a 60-year-old army doctor. This moment occurs after the other characters talk of how he is “hopelessly drunk… as if he’d done it on purpose”.

Monologue curated by Classical Monologue Dramaturg, Rory Starkman.

DRAMATURG NOTES (from all three pieces):

Though all three of these characters are traditionally cast as ‘male’, nothing in these monologues indicate that they need to be male. Each monologue reads as a philosophical soliloquy, and though traditionally it has always been males who were thought to philosophize (and even still there is a disparity within university philosophy departments, which tend to be overrun with people assigned male at birth), the ability to think out loud and express one’s thoughts and emotions is not a gendered aspect of living. In de-gendering/un-gendering these monologues from 1900, the idea of philosophical thought in performance can move further out of the male realm and into a more non-binary theatrical space.

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