About the Playwright
Anton Chekhov was born January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, Russia. Chekhov began writing short stories during his days as a medical student at the University of Moscow. After graduating in 1884 with a degree in medicine, he freelanced as a journalist and comedy sketch writer for multiple publications in St. Petersburg and Moscow while practicing medicine all over the Western Russia region. Chekhov endured heavy criticism for such early works as Ivanov (1887) and The Wood Demon (1888) and thereafter took purposeful steps away from the dramatic conventions of the time. His unique perspective on humanity, influenced by his medical career, and his fondness for vaudevilles and French farces helped lead the way to such one-act masterpieces as The Bear (1888), and The Wedding (1889). With the Moscow Art Theatre’s production of The Seagull (1897), Chekhov enjoyed his first overwhelming success of a full-length play. The Seagull was followed by a significantly revised version of The Wood Demon – newly entitled Uncle Vanya – and productions of Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904). These last four “great” plays would become his legacy; Chekhov died of tuberculosis on July 14, 1904 at the age of 44. Since his death, his plays have become famous world-wide, and he is considered to be Russia’s greatest playwright.
PAUL SCHMIDT (Translator)
Paul, a librettist, poet, teacher and actor who collaborated with many major avant-garde theater artists, earned his Ph.D. in Slavic Literature from Harvard University. A professor of Russian Literature at the University of Texas and at Wellesley College, he translated the complete works of Arthur Rimbaud, the complete works of Russian poet Velemir Khlebnikov, and Chekhov’s four major plays: Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Seagull, and The Cherry Orchard. His translations of plays by Gogol, Genet, Brecht, and Marivaux have been produced by Joanne Akalaitis, Robert Wilson, and Peter Sellars. Schmidt wrote the libretto for Alice (an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass), and an original play about Stalin and Shostakovich entitled Black Sea Follies.
About the Director
Harriet Power has worked with playwrights throughout her career, as a resident director of Bay Area Playwrights Festival, West Coast Playwrights, and the Iowa Playwrights Festival, as well as during her tenure as Artistic Director of Venture Theatre and at the International Women Playwrights Festival (Galway, Ireland). An associate professor of theatre at Villanova, Ms. Power teaches dramaturgy, acting, and solo performance. In 2004, during her sabbatical year in Rome, Italy, she directed Dinner with Friends for The English Theatre of Rome (the city’s largest professional English-language theatre). Recent U.S. directing credits include Fred and Jane, Incorruptible, Art and By the Bog of Cats… (Villanova Theatre), Syncopation (Act II Playhouse), Reinventing Eden (InterAct Theatre Company) and Missing Link (InterAct Theatre Company, 2002 Barrymore nominee for Best New Play). She is the recipient of three Barrymore nominations for Outstanding Direction for Measure for Measure (Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival), A Moon for the Misbegotten (Venture Theatre), and Angels in America: Perestroika, for which she received the 1997 award with Villanova colleague James J. Christy.
VILLANOVA THEATRE PRESENTS THREE SISTERS
Villanova Theatre presents Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov’s beloved exploration of love and longing in turn-of-the-century Russia. Directed by theatre professor and award-winning director Harriet Power, Three Sisters runs February 6 – 18, 2007 at Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Show times are 8:00pm Tuesday – Saturday and 2:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $18-$24, with discounts for seniors, students, and groups, and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box office at (610) 519-7474. Additional information is available online at www.theatre.villanova.edu.
Three Sisters brings to life an intimate circle of siblings, spouses, and friends who pass the long days together in a remote Russian town. Their placid routines are disrupted, however, when a handsome stranger arrives upon the scene, bringing long-suppressed desires to the fore.
Anton Chekhov was born in 1860 in Taganrog, Russia. After enduring heavy criticism for such early works as Ivanov (1887) and The Wood Demon (1888) he took purposeful steps away from the dramatic conventions of the time. The Moscow Art Theatre’s production of The Seagull (1897) gave Chekhov his first overwhelming success with a full-length play. The Seagull was followed by a significantly revised version of The Wood Demon – newly entitled Uncle Vanya – and productions of Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904). These last four “great” plays would become his legacy; Chekhov died of tuberculosis on July 14, 1904 at the age of 44. Since his death, his plays have become famous world-wide, and he is considered Russia’s greatest playwright.
Scholars marvel at the extent to which Three Sisters reflects Chekhov’s personal life, in which he fell in and out of love with three different sets of three sisters before marrying late in life. Like the three fictional sisters for which his play is named, Chekhov also yearned for the bustle and excitement of Moscow whenever work or poor health kept him from his favorite city. However, it was Chekhov’s struggle to find answers to questions about human existence, the meaning of life, and the importance of work that produced his vigorous unconventionality that mystified and captivated his contemporaries.
“I am astounded by Three Sisters, which, 105 years later, feels like absolutely new, even daring work,” said Power. “Not only was Chekhov the first playwright to make the tiny, seemingly accidental nuances of human interaction his focus, he continues to be the only playwright to do so with such deadly yet loving accuracy.”
Unlike many professional productions, which cast older actors in the sibling roles – a mistake, Power believes, “since their youth is such a powerful factor in their story” – Villanova Theatre’s staging of Three Sisters boasts a fully age-appropriate cast. The current production also uses the celebrated American translation by actor, playwright and scholar Paul Schmidt, a version Power prizes for its clarity, naturalness, and humor. “It is a mark of Chekhov’s genius that he so effortlessly interwove comedy and tragedy,” said Power. “We hope to do the same in our production.”
Power is an award-winning director and associate professor at Villanova Theatre whose passion and affinity for Chekhov was exhibited in her acclaimed production of Uncle Vanya at Villanova in 2000. Her recent directing credits include Michael Hollinger’s Incorruptible and the American premiere of Sebastian Barry’s Fred and Jane at Villanova Theatre, the world premieres of Seth Rozin’s Reinventing Eden and Missing Link (which received the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia’s Barrymore nomination for Outstanding New Play) at InterAct Theatre, and Measure for Measure at Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, which received a Barrymore nomination for Outstanding Direction of a Play. In 1997, she received the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play with James J. Christy for Villanova Theatre’s production of Angels in America: Perestroika.
The cast of Three Sisters features a mix of graduate theatre students, undergraduate students, and guest artists, including David Whalen (Vershinin), Carl Granieri (Tuzenbach), Bohdan Senkow (Chebutykin), Jared Nelson (Andrei), Grace Armstrong (Olga), Jessica Dal Canton (Masha), Laura Papay (Irina), Marcie Bramucci (Natasha), Jarad Mitchell Benn (Kulygin), Justin Damm (Solyony), Matt Mykytushyn (Fedotik), Joshua Hoover (Rohde), Charles Helmetag (Ferapont), Barbara Quinn (Anfisa), and Chris Braak, Carrie Chapter, Callie Jacobsen, and Adam Landon.
Three Sisters runs February 6 – 18, 2007. Show times are 8:00pm Tuesday – Saturday and 2:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $18-$24 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box office at (610) 519-7474. Visit www.theatre.villanova.edu for more information.