One of the giants of British theatre is to bring his interpretation of a poignant Chekhov tale to audiences at the newly refurbished Sherman Theatre in Cardiff.
Despite growing up in Cardiff, Peter Gill's lengthy and illustrious career has never once seen him direct a play in his home city, until now.
As part of National Theatre Wales' action-packed second year, the prolific playwright and director is heading a new production of A Provincial Life, a play he adapted from Chekhov's story My Life - The Story of A Provincial, and first directed at The Royal Court Theatre in 1966.
Gill himself admits he "feels like a different man" revisiting the play so many years later and cannot remember much about directing it as a younger man, which gives him the freedom to view the text and "Chekhov's wonderful poetry" afresh.
Peter Giil. Photo: Helen Maybanks / National Theatre Wales
A Provincial Life is set in 1890s Russia and centres on the life of Misail Poloznev, a young gentleman who renounces the "privilege of capital and education" in favour of earning his living through manual labour.
This daring decision causes ructions within his family, with his architect father beating him and his sister begging him to rethink his chosen path. After working in construction on a railway line, he takes up a position alongside a painter and labourer but finds that society is not accepting of his lifestyle choices.
He is disinherited by his father who accuses him of shaming the family but falls in love with an engineer's daughter who finds his idealism exciting, that is until they marry and her true feelings for the peasants they are surrounded by become known.
For Gill it is a play that still resonates today and he hopes audiences in Cardiff will appreciate the themes of struggle, a thwarted search for equality and disillusionment through failed ideals.
"Whatever they think, it's a marvellous story and portrait of a mind at a very specific point in history," he said.
"What struck me about it most was the wonderful characters and how they are involved in what is a very engaging and moving story.
"It's fascinating to come back to after all these years, a very curious thing."
The production sees Gill once more join creative forces with the designer Alison Chitty, who has been a long-term collaborator with Mike Leigh and Peter Hall in the past and was resident designer at the National Theatre in London for eight years.
Gill and Chitty first began working together at the famous Riverside Studios Gill founded in London in 1976 and have teamed up many times since. She too has more than four decades of experience designing operas, plays and films all over the world.
Gill says: "I'm not very conceptual but Alison is and she can bring something to the production beyond my grasp. We have always worked well together. The first time I saw her theatre design it struck me and I liked it very much. We have a good method of working."
He would not be drawn on the exact staging of the show, particularly as rehearsals began in London only last week, but said: "I'm not too worried about a traditional setting or fitting in with convention."
The cast of professionals will include Kezia Burrows, Alex Clatworthy, Richard Corgan, Helen Griffin, Lee Haven-Jones, Mike Hayward, Mark Lewis, Sara Lloyd-Gregory, John-Paul Macleod, Liam Mansfield, Clive Merrison, Kenneth Price, Nicholas Shaw, William Thomas and Menna Trussler.
Alongside these will be an ensemble of 12 semi-professional performers from Cardiff, gathered as part of National Theatre Wales' TEAM programme, with help from Sherman Cymru and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Gill has high hopes for the cast, hand-picked by himself and currently being put through their paces in London.
He said: "We've a Welsh crew and largely Welsh cast which I think will give it a Welsh flavour. They are a wonderful and very balanced bunch.
"Our lead actor Nicholas Shaw is particularly talented and I think will bring something wonderful to the role of Misail."
Gill is excited to be leading one of the first productions at the revamped theatre, which has just undergone a £6.5m redevelopment.
The changes include an entirely new exterior, and redesigned foyer space, public areas and access.
Cast and crew will also benefit from improvements to rehearsal rooms and backstage areas. He said: "It looks fantastic and I'm really looking forward to being a part of its relaunch.
"And if the audience in Cardiff likes human stories, filled with poetry, good acting and fascinating characters then they will love A Provincial Life."
Peter Gill was born in 1939 in Cardiff and initially worked as an actor before making his foray into directing and writing.
His varied career has seen him at the helm of more than 100 productions in the UK, Europe and North America.
His time at the Royal Court in the 1960s saw him credited with introducing the plays of DH Lawrence to the theatrical world.
He was the founding director of Riverside Studios and the Royal National Theatre Studio.
The raft of plays he has directed include Wilde, Shakespeare, Chekhov, Congreve, Otway, as well as Hampton, Orton, Osbourne, Pinter and Wright.
A Provincial Life is at the Sherman Cymru in Senghennydd Road, Cardiff from 1-17 March 2012. For tickets contact the Box Office on 029 2064 6900 or visit shermancymru.co.uk.