This February, international presenter Cherry​​​​​ Orchard ​​​​​Festival brings Chicago audiences the Windy City premiere ​​​​​of​​​​​ the ​​​​​critically-acclaimed ​​​​​play Brodsky/Baryshnikov, ​​​conceived​​​ and​​​ directed​​​ by ​​​Alvis ​​​Hermanis at ​​​​​the​​​​​ Harris Theater ​​​for ​​​Music​​​ and ​​​Dance ​ (205​​​ E.​​​ Randolph ​​​Dr.). The​​ ​​​limited​​​ Chicago ​​​engagement​​​ caps a three-city​​​ North ​​​American ​​​tour ​​​of ​​​the​​​ production ​​​co-produced​​​ by ​​​The ​​​New ​​​Riga ​​​Theatre ​​​and Baryshnikov​​​ Productions.​​​ Additional ​​​tour​​​ stops ​​​include ​​​Boston’s​​​ Cutler​​​ Majestic​​​ Theatre ​​​(Jan. 17-21) ​​​and​​​ Toronto’s ​​​Wintergarden ​​​Theatre​​​ (Jan. ​​​24-27).

Brodsky​​​ /​​​ Baryshnikov​​​​​​​ is​​​​​ a ​​​​​one-man​​​​​ show ​​​​​based​​​​​ on ​​​​​the ​​​​​poems ​​​​​of ​​​​​Nobel ​​​​​Laureate​​​​​ Joseph​ ​Brodsky,​​​ performed​​​​​ by ​​​​​legendary ​​​​​dancer/actor​​​​​​ Mikhail​​​​​ Baryshnikov.​​​​​ It​​​​​​​ is​​​​​ an ​​​​​emotional ​​​​​journey​ ​deep ​​​​​into ​​​​​the ​​​​​poet’s ​​​​​visceral ​​​​​and ​​​​​complex ​​​compositions.​​​​​ Performed​​​​​ in ​​​​​Russian​​​​​ and​​​​​​ subtitled​​​​​​ in​ ​English,​​​​​ Baryshnikov ​​​​​recites​​​​​ a​​​​​ selection​​​​​ of ​​​​​his ​​​long-time​​​​​ friend’s ​​​​​poignant​​​​​ and​​​​​ eloquent​​​​​ works ​​​and his ​​​subtle ​​​​​physicality​​​​​ transports​​​​​ the ​​​​​audience​​​​​ into​​​ Hermanis’ ​​​​​reverent​​​​​ imagining​​​​​ of​​​​​ Brodsky’s​ ​interior​​​​​ world.​​​The​​​ U.K.’s​​​ The ​​​Stage​​​ hails ​​​the ​​​work​​​ as ​​​“a​​​ deeply​​​ felt ​​​tribute…poignant,”​​​ and What’s on ​​​Stage​​​ calls ​​​it,​​​ “a ​​​gift​​​ from​​​ one ​​​great​​​ artist​​​ to ​​​another,​​​ a​​​ debt​​​ of​​​ love…you​​​ can​​​ hear​​​ a ​​​pin​​​ drop ​​​as the ​​​90-minutes ​​​unfolds.”

Brodsky​​​/​​​Baryshnikov​​​ premiered​​​ at ​​​the ​​​New ​​​Riga​​​ Theatre,​​​ Riga,​​​ Latvia ​​​in​​​ October,​​​ 2015​​​ and​​​ had its ​​​North​​​American​​​ premiere ​​​at ​​​the ​​​Baryshnikov ​​​Arts ​​​Center’s​​​ Jerome ​​​Robbins ​​​Theater,​​​ March 9, 2016.​​​ The ​​​New ​​​York​​​ Times ​​​said​​​ of​​​ Baryshnikov’s​​​ performance,​​​ “He​​​ is ​​​arguably​​​ most​​​ entrancing, and​​​ most​​​ deeply​​​ immersed ​​​in​​​ the​​​ language…It’s​​​ as ​​​if​​​ the ​​​language ​​​is ​​​a ​​​current​​​ of​​​ energy ​​​activating not​​​ just​​​ his​​​ mind ​​​but​​​ his ​​​entire ​​​body; ​​​you ​​​sense ​​​that​​​ he ​​​feels ​​​its ​​​presence​​​ inside ​​​him​​​ down ​​​to​​​ his fingertips.”

​Joseph​​​ Brodsky​​​ was​​​ born ​​​in​​​ Leningrad​​​ (now​​​ St .​​​Petersburg) ​​​in​​​ 1940​​​ and​​​ immigrated​​​ to ​​​the ​​​United States ​​​in ​​​1972. ​​​He ​​​began ​​​writing ​​​poetry​​​ in ​​​the​​​ 1950s​​​, but​​​ his​​​ works ​​​were​​​ not​​​ published​​​ in ​​​his​​​ native country ​​​until ​​​the​​​ 1990s. Five ​​​books​​​ of ​​​his​​​ poetry​​​ in ​​​Russian ​​​were ​​​published ​​​abroad:​​​ “Ostanovka​​​v pustyne”​​​(1970;​​​ revised​​​1989),” ​​​“Konets​​​prekrasnoi​​​epokhi”​​​ (1977),​​​ “Chast'​​​rechi”​​​ (1977), ​​​“Novye stansy​​​k ​​​Avguste” ​​​(1983), ​​​“Uraniia”​​​(1984) ​​​and​​​ “Peizazh​​​s​​​navodneniem” ​​​(1996).​​​ As​​​ an​​​ émigré​​​ he published​​​ three​​​ books​​​ of ​​​poetry ​​​in​​​ English, and​​​ his​​​ second ​​​collection ​​​of​​​ essays,​​​ was ​​​published​​​ in​​​ 1996. His ​​​first​​​ collection ​​​of​​​ essays,​​​“Less​​​ Than ​​​One”​​​(1986),​​​ received ​​​the ​​​National​​​ Book​​​ Critics​​​ Circle Award ​​​in​​​ 1986​​​ and ​​​three ​​​of​​​ his ​​​essays ​​​have ​​​appeared ​​​in​​​ The​​​ Best​​​ American ​​​Essays.​​​

​Latvia-born dancer and choreographer Mikhail​​​​​ Baryshnikov​​​​​ is​​​​​ considered ​​​​​​​one​​​​​​​​ of​​​​​​​​ the​​​​​​​​ greatest​​​​​​​​ dancers​​​​​​​​ of​​​​​ our​​​​​​​​ time.​​​​ After​​​​​ commencing​​​​​ a ​​​​​spectacular ​​​​​career​​​​​ with​​​​​ the​​​​​ Kirov​​​​​ Ballet​​​​ in​​​​​​ Leningrad,​​​​ he ​​​​​​came ​​​​​to​​​​​ the​ ​West​​​​​ in​​​​​1974,​​​ settling​​​​​ in​​​​​ New​​​​​ York ​​​​​City ​​​​as ​​​​principal​​​​​​​​ dancer​​​​​ with​​​​​ American ​​​​​Ballet​​​​​ Theatre (ABT).​​​​​ In​ 1979 ​​​​​​he ​​​​​joined ​​​​​New​​​ York ​​​​​​​City ​​​​​​​​Ballet,​​​​ where ​​​​​​​​he​​​​​​​​ worked​​​​​​​​ with​​​​​​ George ​​​​​​​Balanchine​​​​​​​​​ and ​​​​​Jerome ​Robbins.​​​​​​ A ​​​​​year ​​​​​later ​​​​​he ​​​​​was​​​ appointed​​​​​​​ artistic ​​​​​director​​​​​of​​​​​​​​ ABT​​​​ where, ​​​​for​​​​​ the ​​​​​next​​​​​​ decade,​​​​​ he​ ​introduced​​​​ a​​​​​​ new​​​​​ generation ​​​​​​​of​​​​​​​​ dancers ​​​​and ​​​​​​​choreographers. ​​​​​From​​​​​​​​ 1990-2002​​​​,​​​​​​​​​​​​ Baryshnikov​​​​​ was​​​​​​​​ director​​​​​​​​ and​​​​​​ dancer​​​​​ of​​​​​ the ​​​​​White​​​​​​​ Oak ​​​​​​​​Dance ​​​​Project,​​​​​ a ​​​​​modern​​​​​ dance​ ​company ​​​​​he ​​​​​co-founded​​​​​ with​​​​​ choreographer​​​​​ Mark ​​​​​Morris.​​​​​ As ​​​​​an​​​​ actor ​​​​​​he ​​​​​has ​​​performed​​​​​ widely​ ​on- and​​​​​ off-Broadway,​​​​​ as ​​​​​well ​​​​​as ​​​​​in ​​​​​television​​​​​ and ​​​​​film,​​​​​ receiving​​​​​ a ​​​​​Tony​​​​​ Award​​​ nomination​​​​​ and​​​​​ a​ ​Drama ​​​​​Desk ​​​​​Award​​​​​ for​​​​ ​Metamorphosis​​​ and​​​​ an ​​​​​Academy​​​​​​​​ Award ​​​​​​​​nomination ​​​​​for ​​​​​The​​​​ Turning​​​​ Point.

Conceiving and directing the production,  Alvis​​​​​ Hermanis ​​​​​was​​​​​ recently​​​​​ named ​​​​​among ​​​​​​​the ​​​​​​​​10 ​​​​​​​​most​​​​​​​​ influential​​​​​ European ​​​​theater ​​​​​personalities​​​​​ of ​​​​​the​​​​​ last​​​​​ decade​​​​​ by ​​​​​DU​​​​​ Magazine ​​​​​Swiss​​​​​ periodical​​​​​ for ​​​​​arts ​​​​​and​ ​culture.​​​​​ He currently​​​​​ works​​​​​ with ​​​​​major​​​​​ European​​​​​ theater​​​​ companies, ​​​​including​ ​​Burgtheater​​​​ Vienna and Schaubühne​​​​​​​ Berlin. His​​​​​ many ​​​​​accolades ​​​​​include​​​​​ the​​​​​ Europe​​​​​ Prize ​​​New​​​​​​​ Theatre​​​​​​​​ Realities, ​​​​​​​​the​​​​​ Stanislavsky ​​​​​​​​Award,​​​​​​ two​​​​ Golden​​​​​​ Mask​​​​​ Awards​​​​​(Moscow) and ​​​​​Max​​​​ Reinhardt​​​​​​ Pen​​​ (Salzburger ​​Festspiele).

​​​​​​​Brodsky/Baryshnikov,​​​ starring​​​ Mikhail​​​​ Baryshnikov​​​​ at ​​​​​the ​​​​​Harris​​​ Theater ​​​for​​​ Music​​​ and Dance,​​​ will run February 2 - 4. Tickets​​​​​​ are ​​​$45-$150.​​​ For ​​​tickets​​​ or ​​​more ​​​information ​​​visit ​​​​​​ or​​​ call 312.334.7777.

Legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov in Brodsky/Baryshnikov (photo by Stephanie Berger).

Cherry Orchard Festival to Bring the Chicago Premiere of Brodsky/Baryshnikov to Harris Theater