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Returning to Chekhov

By Ann Klotz

In the summer of 1975, two afternoons a week, my mother drove me for a scene study class. I remember the broad planked floor, tall windows, dust dancing in the light coming through ivy-covered panes.

And while for a long time I couldn’t recall my teacher’s name, it eventually floated back to me: Penelope Reed. We called her Penny. I loved being onstage, imagining I was the character I was playing. In those days, simplicity was hard for me. When Penny told me to trust the text, the work of talking and listening, I didn’t know what to do.

“You need to be more vulnerable,” she said kindly. I had no idea what she was talking about.

I was playing Anya, a dreamer, in Chekhov’s play, Three Sisters. I had copied out the whole scene into a small notebook, spiral bound, with a cover made from thin reddish-brown cardboard that was old fashioned, even in 1975. I felt serious, professional. We didn’t have to memorize our lines, but I was proud that the notebook could…

About the Author

Ann V. Klotz’s work often explores the intersection of motherhood and teaching. Her essays have appeared on the Brevity blog and on Hippocampus’ Writing Life column as well as in Literary Mama, Mothers Always Write, the Feminine Collective and the Manifest Station. She is working on a memoir about her family’s century-long relationship with a tiny resort town called Eagles Mere. You can read more of her work at or follow her on Twitter @aklotz