In 1890, Anton Chekhov journeyed alone for three months across 5,000 miles of Siberian wilderness to make good on his commitment to medicine. His destination: the remote Tsarist penal colony of Sakhalin Island. His goal: to document the living conditions of the exiles and convicts incarcerated there.
But what was Chekhov really seeking on Sakhalin? And what did he find there? How would his self-imposed exile affect him?
On his return he wrote the first of his four great plays and Sakhalin Island – a chronicle of his experiences and his largest single work. Inspired by this book, performer Andrew Dawson, with neurophysiologist Jonathan Cole, reveals the alchemy ignited by the scientistâ€™s powers of close observation and the writerâ€™s instinctive vision.
Through a mesmerizing collage of image, sound, original live music and movement, The Russian Doctor plumbs the mysteries of the island, conjuring the 10,000 inhabitants and evoking the resonances of the writer-doctorâ€™s experiences there.
An exploration of the impossibility of escape, The Russian Doctor is a meditation on freedom.
The Russian Doctor premieres in UK in October 2014 and is presented first at Theatre Royal Winchester in March 2014 as a work in development with the support of a Large Arts award from Wellcome Trust
â€œMedicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the otherâ€ – Anton Chekhov