Poet of the heart
Artistic Director Andrew Upton on Dylan's lyrics
Very early in Act 1, Masha is humming a song to herself. That song is clearly a folk song, so I did a little bit of research and found how around the time that Chekhov was writing, the trend amongst the culturally sophisticated classes in Russia was to advocate for peasants and folk culture. They would dress in traditional folk costumes and sing the folk songs. Masha is a sophisticated, educated woman, but she is also stranded in the middle of nowhere, so there's a tension for her as to how pleasurable that folk music might be. I knew Kip wanted the play set around the 1970s, so I thought Bob Dylan’s early work as a songwriter fits right inside that time and the bourgeois idea of getting to know the working class. So, my initial attraction was that I loved 'Man of Constant Sorrow', a folk song that Dylan recorded a great version of, and I wondered if perhaps the sisters’ mother used to play it. I imagined Dylan being a part of the fabric of their family life, while also reflecting the way in which they are sophisticated people in a very unsophisticated environment. And that's the tension.