‘Three Sisters’ to debut tonight

Lauren Crist

School of Theatre and Dance presents play in Music and Speech Building

“Olga,” played by Laura Cook, and “Irina,” played by Sara Hymes, converse with each other during the rehearsal of “Three Sisters” last night in the Wright-Curtis Theatre in the Music and Speech Building. The play starts tomorrow and runs until Nov. 9. Sam

Credit: DKS Editors

Folk music, aristocracy, cold winters and family tragedy – Russia never felt so close.

The cast of the School of Theatre and Dance’s production of “Three Sisters” transports the audience to pre-revolution Russia. All manner of reality melts away as the lights dim and the Russian instrumental music begins to play over the speakers.

“It’s about love, it’s about hope,” said Mark Monday, an assistant professor of acting and director of the play. “It’s about brothers and sisters getting along and not getting along.”

“Three Sisters” opens at 8 p.m. tonight and performances continue through Nov. 9 in the Wright-Curtis Theatre in the Music and Speech Building.

Written in 1901 by Anton Chekhov, the play depicts the everyday life of three aristocratic sisters who live with their brother, Andrey, in the country. Olga, Masha and Irina long to return to Moscow and lead a productive life.

Show Times and Ticket Information

&bull “Three Sisters” will be performed Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. It will also be shown Tuesday, Nov. 4 through Saturday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m.

&bull To buy tickets, visit the box office in the Music and Speech Building or call (330) 672-2497.

&bull Box office hours: Monday-Friday, Noon to 5 p.m., and one hour before each performance.

“This family is ready for a change,” Monday said, “and is looking forward to the change in czarist Russia to a more working class kind of people.”

The passage of time is a reoccurring theme throughout the play. Actors wear watches on their wrists, and actresses wear timepieces as necklaces and earrings.

“I was interested in the concept of the play,” Monday said, “and what time does to us, and how time affects people in different ways, even within the family.”

The image of the clock goes beyond the actor’s costumes. Clocks, hourglasses and metronomes appear on tables on the set. The entire floor is a marble sundial, and the inter workings of a clock hangs from the ceiling like a chandelier.

“Everything that you see is round, and the movement of the actors on the stage is representative of the clock,” Monday said. “We force (the actors) scenically to travel in circles.”

Not only is the set elaborate, but the costumes also enhance the Russian atmosphere. Actresses wear extravagant wigs, corsets and elegant, detailed, Victorian-style dresses.

Jennifer Biehl, a costume design graduate student, designed the costumes as part of a requirement for her thesis.

“My favorite part of designing this show was being able to work closely with my actors and designers,” she said. “I enjoyed having the time to work on this project, and you don’t always have the time to talk to this many people or work over this much information.”

Biehl said she began by researching the time period, which was an interesting transition between the Victorian and Edwardian period.

“I researched the climate of Russia and the location it takes place in and also the fashion, cultural and historical influences at the time,” she said. “This show is interesting because of the scale and size of it and the detail that is required for it.”

The needs of the actors, set and lighting designers are also considered when designing a costume, Biehl said.

“I think about the overall scope of the show,” she said. “Then I start looking at what is needed for certain things and what I need to give (the actors and designers) to help them tell the story.”

Contact College of the Arts reporter Lauren Crist at [email protected].