chekhovOS /an experimental game/ in aid of Gift of Life

On 27 May 2021, the European premiere of chekhovOS /an experimental game/ hosted on ZeroGravity.ART raised over £5,500 to help children and young adults in Russian clinics flight cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

We couldn’t have achieved this result without a joint effort of the amazing cast, the creative team and the partners of this unique and innovative performance. Gift of Life is utterly grateful to Arlekin Players Theatre and its Artistic Director Igor Golyak for this amazing opportunity for the charity to be part of a new virtual theatre in the 21st century. Thank you to the partners of the project, .ART and the Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation, for their incredible support.

Our special thanks to Mikhail Baryshnikov, Baryshnikov Arts Center Founder and Artistic Director, and Chulpan Khamatova, actress and co-founder of our sister charity Podari Zhizn, for their incredible support of Gift of Life in our 10 years anniversary of helping children beat cancer!

We cannot thank enough our long-standing donors and new supporters who shared this special moment with us and donated to experience this experimental art format merging theatre, cinematography, and video games.

This unique, innovative performance experiment fuses film, theatre, and video game technology to create a new medium where viewers are able to interact with the performers. Inspired by Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and drawing from recordings of Chekhov’s letters and dreams, this interactive online theatre experience accesses the operating system behind both Chekhov’s computer and the world in which his characters live, searching for happiness.

“The Post-pandemic theatre has to re-examine and reimagine itself. Through this experiment we are finding out how humankind can find each other in the virtual while continuing to treasure the in-person encounter, which makes for a new kind of site-specific theater,” says Golyak. “And I find myself in constant dialogue with The Cherry Orchard—during a time of loss and recovery, it helps us explore connection, transition, loss, and the human yearning for happiness. We are grateful to our co-presenters for sharing this internationally with a broader audience and for the opportunity to do so on the incredible .ART platform. It is thrilling to be developing work in this new genre with these visionary partners.”

The cast of chekhovOS /an experimental game/ comprises a cadre of well-known stage, television, and film actors including Tony-Nominee Jessica Hecht, who performs the iconic role of Ranevskaya. The presentation also features other celebrated performers, including Anna Baryshnikov (Apple TV+’s Dickinson) as Varya; Arlekin’s Darya Denisova as Natasha Prozorov; Boston’s Anna Bortnick as Charlotta, Jeffrey Hayenga (The Elephant Man) as Fiers; Melanie Moore (Finding Neverland, So You Think You Can Dance) as Anya; Mark Nelson (Angels in America, The Invention of Love) as Gaev; and acclaimed Boston-based actor Nael Nacer as Lopakhin. Baryshnikov Arts Center Founder and Artistic Director Mikhail Baryshnikov makes a special appearance in the role of Anton Chekhov. 


The post-performance talkback featured a charity raffle draw to win a special gift – The Cherry Orchard edition autographed by Mikhail Baryshnikov.

The prize was raffled among all participants who donated £50 or more to see the performance. It was won by a lucky winner from Denmark (ticket number 1729991379).


Arlekin’s Zero Gravity (zero-G) Lab & The Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation present


Inspired by The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov

Conceived & Directed by Igor Golyak

Produced by Igor Golyak & Sara Stackhouse

Featuring Jessica Hecht as Ranevskaya and Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov

Hosted on ZeroGravity.ART

Creative Team

Conceived & Directed by Igor Golyak. Producers: Igor Golyak and Sara Stackhouse. Virtual Performance Technical Director: Vladimir Gusev. Game Engine & Interaction Design: Will Brierly, Snowrunner Productions. Narrative Writer: Tom Abernathy. Assistant Director: Blair Cadden. Virtual Set & Environment Designer: Anna Fedorova. Web Developer: Anatoly Krivonos. Composer: Jakov Jakoulov. Properties Assistant: Irina Vilenchik. Live Production Technicians: Anton Nikolaev and Igor Golyak. Platform: The Soft Layer by Snowrunner Productions


Ranevskaya Jessica Hecht, Gaev Mark Nelson, Varya Anna Baryshnikov, Anya Melanie Moore, Lopakhin Nael Nacer, Fiers Jeffrey Hayenga, Natasha Prozorov Darya Denisova, Charlotta Anna Bortnick. With Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov.

Film Crew

Director of Photography: Guillermo Cameo. Associate Producer: Joshua A. Friedman. 2nd Camera and Editor: Anton Nikolaev. Sound: Sebastian Holst. Gaffer: Sashank Sana. Assistant Editor: Anna Gruman. Production Assistant: Violet de Besche

Arlekin Players Theatre, founded by Artistic Director Igor Golyak, was created in Boston in 2009 and has since toured to New York, Chicago, and Hartford, as well as to international festivals in Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, and Monaco. Click for more here.