Phrases From Ferapont Spiridonych (also known as Charlie Urbanowicz): For The Production of Anton Chekov's Three Sisters Directed by Dr. Sue Pate, March 10-14,1999.

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology/California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
(530-898-6220; 530-898-6192; FAX: 530-898-6824)
10 March 1999
additions made on
7 March 2000 (1)

NOTE: On March 7, 2000, the Spring 2000 production of The Madwoman of Chaillot opened on the campus of CSU, Chico. For the "giftie" to that cast & crew, please see:

[This page printed from:

"Acting is one of the most exciting, enjoyable, and creative art forms in existence. It can also be one of the most daunting, challenging, and humbling experience anyone can face. Cultural anthropologists tell us that acting, at least in ritual form, is as old as the first humans sitting around the prehistoric campfire playing out for the gathered community the roles of demons, hunted animals, or even rain spirits." (Susan Pate, Randy Wonzong, Donna Breed, 1996, A Beginning Actor's Companion, 3rd edition, page 1)

"Make thyself a craftsman in speech, for thereby thou shalt gain the upper hand." From an inscription found in a 3,000 year old tomb in Egypt.
"I love information. Isn't this great? God, it's fun...." Sue Grafton, 1990, "G" Is For Gumshoe, page 277.

"The Russian Empire in 1900 was the largest land power in the world. Peopling its corners were Lutheran Finns, Orthodox Georgians, Muslim Tajiks, and animist Chukchi--each moving through life in ways vastly alien to the others. Between them lay 100 nations rules by Russians who had built this huge state stretching from the Baltic to the Pacific. Outside the capitals old and new--Kiev, Moscow, St Petersburg--lay new industrial cities, garrison towns, and a sea of peasants and herders. Borderlands were settled and guarded by Cossack hosts and a frontier regiments. The relative weakness of civil society, the recent history of serfdom, ethnic divisions, and the roiling underground movement that had assassinated a tsar two decades earlier--all in various ways contributed to the prominent role of the military and the police in administering the country. A big central bureaucracy, with long tentacles, did things that elsewhere in Europe were in private hands; its ruling style was arrogant and sometimes brutally indifferent to private hands; its ruling style was arrogant and sometimes brutally indifferent to popular needs." Richard Stites, The Russian Empire And The Soviet Union, 1900-1945. In The Oxford History of the Twentieth Century (edited by M. Howard and W. Louis), page, 117-127, page 117.

Russia: "It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." Sir Winston Churchill [1874-1965].
"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment."
(The Anthropologist Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972: 483)

[ NOTE: For other additions made since this was first distributed to the ensemble on January 21, 1999, please click here.]


"The most important word in the English language is attitude. Love and hate, work and play, hope and fear, our attitudinal response to all these situations, impresses me as being the guide." Harlen Adams (1904-1997) [PS: Not Russian, but most appropriate!]

"Our type of creativeness is the conception and birth of a new being--the person in the part. It is a natural act, similar to the birth of a human being." (Konstantin Sergeevich Alekseev Stanislavski [1863-1938]), An Actor Prepares, 1936, Chapter 16.

"There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], War And Peace (1865-1869), Book 4, Chapter 3, 18.

"Open your discourse with a jest, and let your hearers laugh a little; then become serious." (Talmud: Shabbath, 30b)

"[The Grand inquisitor states:] The secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for." (Fëdor Mikhailovich Dostoevski [1825-1881]), The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880), Book 5, Chapter 5.

"If you want people to think you wise, just agree with them."

"The recognition of the sanctity of the life of every man is the first and only basis for all morality." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], The Kingdom of God is Within You (1893), 12, 3.

"Love all God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things." (Fëdor Mikhailovich Dostoevski [1825-1881]), The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880), Book 6, Chapter 3.
"When brains are needed, muscles won't help."

"People should be beautiful in every way--in their faces, in the way they dress, in their thoughts and in their innermost selves." (Anton Pavlovich Chekhov [1860-1904]), Uncle Vanya (1897), Act 1.

"The man who makes arrows is often slain by one of them." (Talmud: Pesahim, 28a)

"The military world is characterized by the absence of freedom--in other words, a rigorous discipline--enforced inactivity, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], War And Peace (1865-1869), Book 3, Chapter 2, 25.

"He is the kind of man who first prepares the bandages, then inflicts the wounds." (Talmud, Megillah, 13a)

"I am always with myself, and it is I who am my tormentor." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], Memoirs of a Madman.

"Fish die when they are out of water, and people die without law and order." (Talmud: 'Abodah Zarah, 4a)

"In time I came to understand that out of the misery and murk of their lives the Russian people had learned to make sorrow a diversion, to play with it like a child's toy; seldom are they diffident about showing their happiness. And so, through their tedious weekdays, they made a carnival of grief; a fire is entertainment; and on a vacant face a bruise becomes an adornment." (Maxim Gorki ["the bitter one"], pseudonym for Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov [1868-1936]), Autobiography (1913).



"All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], Anna Karenina (1875-1877), Part 1, Chapter 1: first sentence.

"If things aren't the way you like, like them the way they are." 

"It is easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put one principle into practice." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910]. In Stefan Zweig, 1939, Master Builders: A Typology For The Spirit.

"A man is not honest just because he has had no chance to steal."

"The man who commits sin is the slave of the sin." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], The Kingdom of God is Within You (1893).

"[Dr. Astrov states that] The forests ... are being felled, the birds and animals are being turned out of their homes, the rivers are becoming swamps, glorious scenery is being destroyed forever.... Man has been endowed with intelligence and creative power [but] he has only destroyed.... Wildlife is becoming extinct, the climate is ruined, and each and every day the earth is more impoverished and ugly." (Anton Pavlovich Chekhov [1860-1904]), Uncle Vanya (1897)
"No one is so poor as he who is ignorant." (Talmud: Yomah, 18b)

"Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!" (Fëdor Mikhailovich Dostoevski [1825-1881]), Crime And Punishment (1866), Book 1, Chapter 2.

"Judge a man only by his own deeds and words; the opinions of others can be false." (Talmud)

"That vague, crepuscular time, the time of regrets that resembles hopes, of hopes that resembles regrets, when youth has passed, but old age has not yet arrived." (Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev [1818-1883], (1862), Chapter 7.

"To learn from the young is to eat unripe fruit and drink new wine; to learn from the old is to eat ripe fruit and drink old wine." (Adapted from Sayings of the Fathers, 4: 28)
"For the ignorant, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the harvest." (Hasidic saying)

"The ill-tempered cannot teach." (Hillel in Sayings of the Fathers, 2: 6)

"There is only one way to put an end to evil, and that is to do good for evil." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], What I Believe (1884).

"The old man used to say that a nap 'after dinner was silver--before dinner, golden.'" (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], War And Peace (1865-1869), Book 1, Chapter 15.

"Man was given two ears and one tongue, so that he may listen more than speak." (HASDAI, Ben ha-Melekh ve-ha-Nazir)

"But profound as psychology is, it's a knife that cuts both ways." (Fëdor Mikhailovich Dostoevski [1825-1881]), The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880), Book 2, Chapter 12.

"For a moment the lie becomes the truth." (Fëdor Mikhailovich Dostoevski [1825-1881]), The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880), Epilogue, Chapter 2.

"Why should one quarrel with good breeding? With some folk, custom's rule prevails." (Alexander Pushkin [1799-1837], Eugene Onegin (1823), Stanza 25.
"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones." (Ibn Gabirol)

"[Father Zossima asks:] How many ideas have there been in the history of man which were unthinkable ten years before they appeared?" ." (Fëdor Mikhailovich Dostoevski [1825-1881]), The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880), Book 6, Chapter 2.

"Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], What Is Art? (1898), Chapter 8.

"Art is not a handicraft, it is a transmission of feeling the artist has experienced." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], What Is Art? (1898)

"The chief thing, my dear fellows, is to play it simply, without any theatricality: just very simply. Remember that they are all ordinary people." (Anton Pavlovich Chekhov [1860-1904]), 1896, Attributed advice to actors during a rehearsal of The Seagull.
"When a bore leaves the room, you feel as if someone came in."

"Brevity is the sister of talent." (Anton Pavlovich Chekhov [1860-1904]), Letter to Alexander Chekhov, 11 April 1889.



"The most powerful weapon of ignorance--the diffusion of printed matter." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], War And Peace (1865-1869), Epilogue, Part II, Chapter 8.

"The wise man hears one word--and understands two."

"When a man is unable to understand a thing, he ridicules it." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], Thoughts And Aphorisms, 13.5 (1886-1893).

"What is lofty can be said in any language, and what is mean should be said in none." (Maimonides)

"A man of learning spares his words." (Book of Proverbs, 17: 37)

"The chief superiority of man over animals lies in his power of speech; but if we speak folly, we are no better than animals." (The Sassover Rabbi)

"What are you laughing at? You are laughing at yourselves!" (Nikolai Gogol [1809-1852], The Inspector-General (1836), V, viii.

"I shall laugh my bitter laugh." (Nikolai Gogol [1809-1852], Epitaph on his tombstone.



"A carpenter without tools is not a carpenter." (Midrash: Ecclesiastes Rabbah, 6)

"The mind is a tool, a machine, moved by spiritual fire." (Fëdor Mikhailovich Dostoevski [1825-1881]), 1838 Letter to his brother.

"Moscow...what surge that sound can start/In every Russian's heart." (Alexander Pushkin [1799-1837]), Eugene Onegin (1833), Chapter 4, Stanza 40.
"No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell."

"A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound." (Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev [1818-1883], Fathers and Sons (1862), Chapter 16.

"A Hero Of Our Time, gentlemen, is indeed a portrait, but not of a single individual; it is a portrait composed of all the vices of our generation in the fullness of their development." (Mikhail Lermontov [1814-1841], A Hero Of Our Time (1841), Author's Introduction.

"Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], War And Peace (1865-1869), Book 1, Chapter 15 

"God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers."

"Life has become a burden to me of late. I see that I have begun to understand too much." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], War And Peace (1865-1869), Book 3, Chapter 2, 25.

"Even the greatest swimmer can drown."

"If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists."

"Experience is our name for accumulated errors."

"Gray hair is worthless, if the brain is still green."

"The door to success has two signs PUSH--and PULL."

"The hardest work is being idle."

"The theatre's full, the boxes glitter/The stalls are seething, the pit roars/The gallery claps and stamps, a-twitter/The curtain rustles as it soars." Alexander Pushkin [1799-1837], Eugene Onegin (1823), Stanza 20.

"Throughout his life Stanislavski regarded the nature of acting energy as spiritual. He believed the soul to be of prime importance in an actor's ability to balance the physical and the spiritual." Ned Manderino, 1989, The Transpersonal Actor, Page 16.

"Play well, or play badly, but play truly." (Konstantin Sergeevich Alekseev Stanislavski [1863-1938]), as cited by David Mamet, 1986, Writing In Restaurants, page 28.

"One can describe the world of today to the people of today only if one describes it as capable of alteration." (Bertolt Brecht [1898-1956]), Can Today's World Become Restored Through Theatre? (1955) [PS: once again: Not Russian, but most appropriate!]

All of the above proverbs without specific attribution are from: Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations (1972) by Leo Rosten.

ITEMS ADDED TO THIS HANDOUT SINCE JANUARY 21, 1999 (in addition to the six statements that began these pages) INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov: Born January 17, 1860 - Died July 2, 1904.

January 31, 1901: "Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters opens to a mixed reception at the Moscow Art Theatre in a production directed by Konstantin Stanislavski [1863-1938]. Olga Knipper, Chekhov's wife, plays Masha." Neil T. Jones, Editor, 1984, A Book of Days For The Literary Year (NY: Thames and Hudson).

"Expunge from yourself anything which interferes with your feeling of a special connection between yourself and all living creatures." Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], as cited for March 10 in Peter Serkin, 1997 (Translator), A Calendar Of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts To Nourish The Soul Written And Selected From The World's Sacred Texts By Leo Tolstoy (Scribner), page 82.

"Russia has two generals in whom she can confide--Generals Janvier and Fevrier." (Statement attributed to Nicholas I of Russia, Punch, March 10, 1855)

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), on observing the burning of Moscow by the Russians in 1812: "What a tremendous spectacle! These are Scythians indeed."

"Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas." ("From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step" as stated by Napoleon Bonaparte [1769-1821] referring to the retreat from Moscow.)

"The Citie of Mosco is great, the houses for the most part of wood, and some of stone, with windowes of Iron, which serve for Summer time. There are many faire Churches of stone, but more of wood, which are hot in the Winter time. The Emperours lodging is in a faire and large Castle, walled foure square of Bricke, high and thicke, situated upon an Hill, two miles about, and the River on the South-west side of it, and it hath sixteene gates in its walls, and as many Bulwarkes." (Anthony Jeninkson, 1625, The First Voyage, 1557, in Purchase His Pilgrimes)

On Moscow: "A city so irregular, so uncommon, so extraordinary, and so contrasted, had never before claimed my astonishment." (William Cox, 1792, Travels Into Poland, Russia, Sweden, etc.)

"Moscow is in every thing extraordinary; as well in disappointing expectation, as i surpassing it; in causing wonder and derision, pleasure and regret...." (E.D. Clarke, 1816, Travels in Various Countries, 4th edition)

"History has for its subject the life of nations and humanity. To catch hold of and encompass in words - to describe exactly - the life of a single people, much less of humanity, would appear impossible." (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi [1828-1910], War And Peace (1865-1869), Volume II (1957 translation), Epilogue, Part Two.

"For someone who waits until age sixty to ask the meaning of life, what the ultimate in life can be, the awakening can be frightening." (Gerald L. Schroeder, 1997, From the "Prologue" in The Science Of God: The Convergence of Scientific And Biblical Wisdom)

The individual who does not make a choice, makes a choice. (Adapted from Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations [1972] by Leo Rosten, page 379.

"There are four types of men in this world:

The man who knows, and knows that he knows; he is wise, so consult him.

The man who knows, but doesn't know that he knows; help him not forget what he knows.

The man who knows not, and knows that he knows not: teach him.

Finally, there is the man who knows not but pretends that he knows: he is a fool, so avoid him."

Ibn Gabirol, Choice of Pearls (in Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations [1972]by Leo Rosten, page 313).

"What is hateful to you, do not do it unto your neighbor; that is the whole of the Torah, all else is commentary." Hillel

"Hope for a miracle--but don't depend on one." (Adapted from Talmud: Megillah, 7b)

"Borrowing, like scratching, is only good for a while."

"The man who is surrounded by dwarfs looks like a giant."

"Gambling is the great leveler. All men [and women!] are equal--at cards. (Nicolai Vasilyevich Gogol [1809-1852].

"Man is born to live, not to prepare for life." (Boris Pasternak [1890-1960], Dr. Zhivago (1958), Part 2, Chapter 9, Section 14.

"Wisdom is born, stupidity is learned" (Russian Proverb)

"Of what use is wisdom that is not taught?"--adapted from Ben Sirach, Ecclesiasticus, 20: 30 (in Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations [1972]by Leo Rosten, page 346.

"After the death of Rabbi Moshe, Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk asked one of his disciplines: 'What was most important to your sage?' The disciple thought, and replied: 'Whatever he happened to be doing at the moment.'" Hasidic Story (in Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations [1972]by Leo Rosten, page 396.)

"Applause is a fading thing. So is fame. So, don't rely too much on it. Whether you have instant recognition or get it a little later, what difference does it make?" (Lotte Lenya [1898-1981]), 9 September 1981, as cited in David Farneth [Editor], 1998, Lenya The Legend: A Pictorial Autobiography, page 214.

"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself." (Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972: 483)

"If I don't practice for one day, I know it; if I don't practice for two days, the critics know it; if I don't practice for three days, the audience knows it." (Ignacy Jan Paderewski [1861-1941], Polish Pianist and Premier of Poland in 1919)

FINALLY: a statement attributed to Anton Chekhov (1860-1904): "The artist may not be a judge of his characters, only a dispassionate witness."

"A teacher affects eternity; he [or she!] can never tell where his [or her] influence stops." (Henry Brooks Adams [1838-1918], The Education of Henry Adams, chapter 20.)

FOR OTHER WWW sites, please see: [The Anton Chekhov Page] [Three Sisters] [Three Sisters] [Three Sisters] [Three Sisters] [Three Sisters] [Three Sisters] [1994 M.A. Thesis entitled The Role of Andrei Sergeevich Prozorov In The Three Sisters]

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 (1) © It has been my "tradition" for the productions I have been privileged to be associated with at California State University, Chico over the past few years (Inherit The Wind in Spring 1996, directed by Dr. Randy Wonzong; a role as a "waiter" in the Fall 1996 campus production of La Boheme, directed by Professor Gwen Curatilo; and the "Russian Intruder" in the Summer 1998 Court Theatre ensemble production of See How They Run, July 7-11, directed by Dr. Sue Pate) to "share" some words as my "gift" to the ensemble/crew; what you have on this page are my personal views/interpetations of some Russian (and general) "feelings" concerning Dr. Susan Pate, the complete ensemble, and Three Sisters. Please see here for Assistant Costume Shop Manager Sandra L. Barton's rendition of Ferapont and how it was eventually portrayed.

Note, not only did Three Sisters (directed by Dr. Sue Pate) open March 10, 1999, on the campus of California State University, Chico, but on previous March 10th's we see that the following occured: Marcello Malpighi was born (1628), William Penn received a charter making him the proprietor of the colonial territory known today as Pennsylvania (1681), the first money was minted in what we call the islands of Hawai'i (1847), Wyatt Earp was born (1848), Giuseppe Mazzini died (1872), Alexander Graham Bell sent the first telephone message to his assistant Thomas Watson (1876), the Salvation Army was established in the USA (1880), Bix Beidebecke was born (1903), Harriet Tubman died (1913), James M. Herriott was born (1916), Heywood Hale Broun was born (1918), James Earl Ray was born (1928), there was an earthquake in Long Beach, California (1933), Chuck Norris was born (1940), Bobby Fischer was born (1943), James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1969), Sygyzy occured: when all 9 planets were aligned on same side of Sun (1982), and Ray Milland died (1986)! Note that for March 15, 1884, Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi (1828-1910) wrote the following in his diary:

"I have to create a circle of reading for myself: Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Pascal, The New testament. This is also necessary for all people." Peter Serkin, 1997 (Translator), A Calendar Of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts To Nourish The Soul Written And Selected From The World's Sacred Texts By Leo Tolstoy (Scribner), page 5.

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Anthropology Department, CSU, Chico
7 March 2000 by CFU