chekhovOS /an experimental game/

Arlekin Players Theatre to hold a European premiere of chekhovOS /an experimental game/ in aid of Gift of Life, helping children beat cancer.

A Live and Interactive Virtual Theatre Experience starring Jessica Hecht and Anna Baryshnikov, Anna Bortnick, Darya Denisova, Jeffrey Hayenga, Melanie Moore, Nael Nacer & Mark Nelson with Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov.


Hosted on ZeroGravity.ART through a New Partnership with .ART

On Thursday, 27th of May at 18:00 BST (20:00 Moscow time) Arlekin Players Theatre will host an exclusive European premiere of chekhovOS /an experimental game/, the latest workshop from (zero-G) to support Gift of Life in their 10 years anniversary of helping children beat cancer.

  • We kindly ask for a suggested donation of £20.
  • All donors giving £50 or more will be automatically entered into a draw to win a special gift autographed by Mikhail Baryshnikov

To make a donation and register for the event, please use the link

All the funds raised from the charity performance will benefit Gift of Life, celebrating 10 years of helping children beat cancer.

The verdict is in: the virtual can, in fact, be an effective new stage for theatre.

The Interactive Virtual Theatre Experience project created in the US will be co-presented globally from May to June by international partners from the worlds of theatre and gaming, including ArtsEmerson, Boston Fig, CAP UCLA (UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance), Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation, Gesher Theater Festival (Israel), International Online Theatre Festival (IOTF)/Theatre Times, ShowOne Productions (Canada), Snowrunner Productions, with special charity screenings in partnership with the children’s cancer charity founded by Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova, Gift of Life in the UK and Podari.Life in the US, all hosted on ZeroGravity.ART.

chekhovOS /an experimental game/, is a performance experiment in development by Arlekin Players Theatre’s founder and director Igor Golyak, who has been a leading innovator of virtual theatre since the start of the pandemic. His recent State vs. Natasha Banina was a Critic’s Pick in The New York Times by Maya Phillips who declared “The verdict is in: the virtual can, in fact, be an effective new stage for theatre.” 

Frequently Asked Questions about chekhovOS

Golyak’s latest work 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.”

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Igor Golyak and Arlekin Players Theatre over the past year as they quickly reinvented themselves with imaginative, timely online theatre projects like State vs. Natasha Banina, which we presented last August, and now chekhovOS /an experimental game/.They are doing important work using traditional Russian theatre approaches while exploring technologies to create a new form of theatre in their new (zero-G) Virtual Theatre Lab, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to share this latest project with our audiences.” says David C. Howse, Executive Director, ArtsEmerson.

Beginning with chekhovOS /an experimental game/, (zero-G)’s virtual theatre productions will be hosted on .ART at the address ZeroGravity.ART as the two companies work together to cultivate an international hub for virtual theatre performance.

“We are pleased today to announce our new partnership with Arlekin’s Zero Gravity (zero-G) Lab. As the world shut down a year ago in the midst of the global pandemic, artists and the creative community, especially the ones in the live arts such as theatre, dance and music, had to reinvent themselves. Arlekin Players Theatre didn’t shy away from the occasion. Instead, they converted their black box into the Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab and they are now a world leader in digital theatre innovation. We are excited to invent and innovate with them as this new genre continues to develop.” says Ulvi Kasimov, Founder of .ART and nominee ART POWER 50 by Observer.

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 work was developed and filmed, in part, at Baryshnikov Arts Center in January with strict adherence to COVID health and safety protocols. chekhovOS /an experimental game/ is a work-in-progress created during the pandemic, a way for artists to work through the themes of the play, the encroaching virus, and a moment of change in the

world around us. The project was developed in the new and emerging genre of virtual theatre at Arlekin’s (zero-G) from a small but mighty group of collaborators, helmed by Igor Golyak. 

This international team of designers and technical engineers collaborated with Golyak both virtually and onsite in Arlekin’s new Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Performance Lab in Needham, MA for several months to create the functionality and online environment for this project, which includes software support from Aximmetry Technologies Ltd., the official software provider for Arlekin’s Zero Gravity Lab and a new platform called “The Soft Layer” from Will Brierly of Snowrunner Productions, with back-end/design work from Vladimir Gusev, Anna Fedorova, and Anton Nikolaev.

This experimental sharing constitutes Phase One of a larger hybrid (live/virtual) chekhovOS project in development for 2022, and is made possible with generous support from producing sponsor .ART, ArtsEmerson, Baryshnikov Arts Center, BroadBand Collaborative, Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation, Fooksman Family Foundation, Meghan Coleman, Robin Hanley, ZiphyCare, gifts from Arlekin’s Zero Gravity Kickstarter Campaign and Aximmetry Technologies Ltd., the official software provider for Arlekin’s Zero Gravity (zero-G) Lab.



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

chekhovOS /an experimental game/

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.