Capitalist interests and missed opportunities

The cherry orchard

Simon McBurney, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

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The celebrated British director Simon McBurney is working with the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam ensemble for the first time. He is tackling The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov’s last play – about the painful demise of people living in illusions of the past. Madame Ranevskaya (Chris Nietvelt) returns to her ancestral estate in the Russian provinces. But the world has changed. The family has huge debts and businessman Lopakhin (Gijs Scholten van Aschat) sees only one solution with which he can drag the family into the new era. McBurney – his work has regularly been performed in the Netherlands since his Dutch debut at the Holland Festival in 2007 – directs a story full of yearning, capitalist interests and missed opportunities, and perhaps with Chekhov’s most loved characters.

background information

After having stayed in Paris for several years, the widow Ranevskaya returns to her family home in Russia. She encounters a changed world. The family’s debts have become so immense that the house 

and estate will have to be auctioned. Businessman Lopakhin sees a way out. He proposes to cut down the cherry orchard and use the land to build summer cottages on, which can be rented out.

Chekhov’s final play portrays the painful demise of people who live in the illusion of their past life and do not understand modern times. The cherry orchard has become unprofitable over time. They used to make jam from the cherries. But even old manservant Firs, who worked on the estate all his life, has forgotten the recipe by now.

The future belongs to capitalists and fast money. In The cherry orchard, the roles are literally reversed. Lopakhin buys the house where his father once worked as a servant. The man who used to be without possessions has become the owner. Ranevskaya still has land, but no money. She is unable to change her way of thinking.

The detailed portrait of people living in futile yearning for something that no longer exists has made The cherry orchard one of the most beloved plays of the global repertoire. Internationally renowned English director Simon McBurney directs the ensemble.



Internationaal Theater Amsterdam is a regular co-producer of the Holland Festival. The company is one of the leading ambassadors of Dutch performing arts in the Netherlands and around the world. With 

a brilliant ensemble of world famous actors and a team of leading directors, it performs on stages worldwide. The group and theater are led by Ivo van Hove, Wouter van Ransbeek and Margreet Wieringa. Often there are sensational international guest directors such as Thomas Ostermeier, Johan Simons, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Katie Mitchell, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Luk Perceval and Guy Cassiers, as well as members of a new generation such as Maren E. Bjørseth, Julien Gosselin and Simon Stone. Productions such as Roman tragedies, The Fountainhead, Kings of War, Husbands and Wives and Obsession premiered at the Holland Festival. 


Simon McBurney (1957) is a British actor, director and writer. In 1983, McBurney co-founded the theatre company Complicite – 'a nomadic family', in his own words – with Annabel Arden and Marcello Magni. Complicite's work is strongly influenced by the ideas of Jacques Lecoq, (1921–1999), one of the pioneers of mime and physical theatre. They create a strongly visual style of theatre, with visceral, poetic and surrealist images supporting the text. Their productions often involve complex use of technology, such as projection and cameras. By integrating text, music, image and action, the company strive to create surprising, disruptive theatre. After winning the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1985 for A Minute Too Late, Complicite have gone on to collect more than fifty prestigious prizes. McBurney has also been involved in various other projects outside of Complicite, including writer and art historian John Berger's The Vertical LineFrench and Saunders Live and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui starring Al Pacino. As an actor, McBurney has played in nearly fifty feature films, including The Last King of Scotland, The Theory of Everything and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, as well as in TV series Rev, The Borgias and Utopia. McBurney made his Holland Festival debut with A Disappearing Number (2007), about the search for infinity by two of the 20th century's most famous mathematicians: Srinivasa Ramanujan and G.H. Hardy. He returned with A Dog's Heart (2010) , The Master and Margarita (2012) and The Encounter (2016).



Anton Chekhov
Simon McBurney
Janni Goslinga, Eva Heijnen, Robert de Hoog, Emma Josten, Hugo Koolschijn, Achraf Koutet, Ruurt de Maesschalck, Majd Mardo, Chris Nietvelt, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Bart Slegers, Harriët Stroet, Steven van Watermeulen, Bøyd van den Bogert, Benjamin Daalder
Robert Icke
dramaturgy and translation
Peter van Kraaij
Mirjam Buether
Paule Constable
Pete Malkin
Will Duke
Fauve Ryckebusch
Joachim Fleury
head of technique, production department
Wolf-Götz Schwörer
Selman Aqiqi
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
Holland Festival, Barbican Centre, Festival Printemps des Comédiens Montpellier

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