Moscow Nights is working to stage “I Take Your Hand in Mine!” on May 19, May 22 and may 29 at the 15th annual International Chekhov Theater Festival “Melikhovskaya Vesna” in Moscow. The performances of “I Take Your Hand in Mine!” play by Carol Rocamora, of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, is based on the love letters between writer Anton Chekhov and actress Olga Knipper.

To help finance the trip, Moscow Nights is planning a series of local performances to educate New Orleans about Russian culture and celebrate Chekov’s contribution to world literature. A reading of “I Take Your Hand in Mine!” is planned for the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and an invitation-only performance and farewell event will be held Tuesday, May 6.

Other events include a free performance at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Tulane Music Department Recital Hall. The show is free of charge, but donations will be accepted.

“We performed this play in 2006, 2008 and 2009 in both Jefferson Parish and New Orleans,” said Natasha Ramer, of Moscow Nights. “In 2011, we performed on Valentine’s Day at the invitation of the Russian Cultural Center of the Russian Federation Embassy in Washington D.C.”

She said she submitted a video of one of the performances and the play was selected to premier in Moscow at Chekhov’s estate in Melikhovo where he wrote his famous play “The Seagull.”

According to Ramer, the performance will be dedicated to the renowned Russian actress, director and teacher Maria Osipovna Knebel, who was a mentor to Ramer when she was a student attending the Russian University of Theatre Arts, the oldest and largest theater school in Russia. Ramer, who immigrated to the United States in 1982, came to New Orleans in 1984.

Moscow Nights will perform as part of the commemoration of Knebel’s 116th birthday. The second Moscow Nights performance for the festival will be in the Chekhov Museum in Moscow. The third performance will be at Bulgakov Museum as a premier special event for general audiences in Moscow.

“To be able to perform it for Russian audiences in Chekhov’s native country — and on Maria Knebel’s birthday — is a great honor,” Ramer said.

The play will be performed in English by New Orleans actors Scott Jefferson and Diana Shortes under the direction of Ramer, with musical compositions by Tulane music professor Faina Lushtak, costume designs by Cecile Covert, stage designs by Max Bernardi, and technical direction and sound engineering by Ray White.

“Since we received notice that we were accepted, it has been so busy with actors, rehearsals, details of the performances, travel arrangements and raising money,” Ramer said.

Moscow Nights is a participant of GiveNolA Day on May 6, during which donations will augmented by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and sponsors of GiveNOLA. Visit for details. Tax-deductible donations also may be made online at