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Keeping it Real

The Five Plots


The Bear

Popova, a beautiful widow in mourning for her late husband, clashes with Grigory – a grumpy creditor who demands Popova pay for her husband’s debts. As they fight, truths are revealed and social niceties are discarded, revealing…love? Click for more.

The Proposal

Lomov desperately wants to propose to Natalya, but there’s one thing standing in the way: they can’t have a single conversation without fighting. Click for more.  

The Wedding

To please a disappointed groom, the mother of the bride pays Niunin to fetch the General as a guest of honor at her daughter’s wedding. The bid for prestige does not go as she planned. Click for more.


The Harmfulness of


Nyukhin has been compelled by his domineering wife to give a lecture about tobacco. He’s going to do it, any minute now. He promises. Click for more.

Swan Song

An aging actor reflects on his disappointing life, and what he sacrificed to follow his art. It’s funnier than it sounds. Click for more.

Click on the stories or photos below to learn about each of the five plays that make up Alley Theatre's world premiere of Little Comedies by Anton Chekhov.

Watching Them Today

Director Richard Nelson says these plays would not have been part of a night of theatre as we know it.  

Nelson says, “They were written into the context of the late 19th century Russian vaudeville – where someone sings a song, an actor recites a speech from a play, and there is a Chekhov short play mixed in.” 

Watch the video to learn more about Vaudeville.  

Why do we watch plays?  

What makes a play different from a movie?

Watch the video to consider theatre's role in modern society.

Discussion Point


Your Role

The actors in these shows often break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. That gives us a unique experience and makes us part of the show.  Watch the video below to understand the part you play in the experience.


Activity: Chekhov’s Themes and Motifs Bingo 

What common themes from Chekhov’s work did you spot in the show?  

Click the button below for a link to 30 bingo cards featuring common themes and motifs from the works of Anton Chekhov.  

Bonus Challenge or Tie Breaker:  

Have winners give examples from the show that match the winning squares.  


Activity: Bingo

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