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Nothing Sacred

"A Canadian comedy, not a Russian tragedy" (according to author George F. Walker) in two acts. It was inspired by Ivan Turgenev's 1862 novel Fathers and Sons, and premiered in a much-discussed commercial production at CentreStage, Toronto, Ontario, in 1988, directed by Bill Glassco. It featured Diane D’Aquila, Richard Monette, and David Fox.

The play won the Chalmers Award and the Governor General’s Award as well as several Dora Mavor Moore Awards and has subsequently been produced across Canada, including at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre with Eric Peterson and Sonja Smits. It has since been produced many times in the U.S. and around the world.

The play enacts a conflict between tradition and change, stasis and revolution. The son of a Russian estate-owner, Arkady Kirsanov, returns home from St. Petersburg to find the family farm failing, the peasants discontented, and his father infatuated with a servant with whom he has a baby son. His friend and classmate, the nihilist Bazarov, is deeply contemptuous of this family lifestyle, and determines to destroy it, as a precursor to a wider social revolution, recruiting Arkady as his acolyte. The household servants are impotent witnesses to this upheaval which will determine their fate.

Bazarov's unrequited obsession with the mysterious aristocrat Anna Odintsov further complicates matters and compromises his philosophy, and his death is finally as pointless as his vision of life.

Commentary by Gaetan Charlebois and Anne Nothof

Last updated 2021-07-28