Jamie Kuntz, A&E Editor
The University of Dallas Drama Department is well-known for performing plays that have a huge emotional impact on the student body, and the upcoming Spring Mainstage, “Three Sisters,” will certainly carry on that tradition.
The play, written by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov and adapted by MacArthur Fellowship and Obie Award-winner Sarah Ruhl, was described by the critic Richard Gilman as “one of the greatest of all plays, a drama as inexhaustible in its way as ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Lear’ are in theirs.”
The press release hailed the play as a “poignant tale [that] depicts an entire village of unlucky lovers struggling with the bittersweet distance between reality and dreams. At the play’s center are the Prozorov Sisters, Olga, Masha and Irina, trying to pretend that they are still in their beloved Moscow, their personal lives not quite what they’d hoped they would be.”
Though director Stefan Novinski has never directed a Chekov play before, he thought that “Three Sisters” would be a good fit for the Spring Mainstage.
“I pick the plays based on the actors we have in the department,” said Novinski. “[And] I thought this play would fit perfectly. I came across this amazing new translation by Obie Award-winning Sarah Ruhl, so all the pieces fit together. Perfect play for a perfect cast.”
Novinski read a few translations before coming across Ruhl’s.
“Sarah has really captured the rhythms of the original Russian,” Novinski said. “For example, she has this great phrase [in her introduction] in which she says she tries to embrace the Russian ideal of lamenting your fate with humor.”
Senior Skyler Patton, who plays Masha, said that UD students will enjoy the play because they will be able to relate to it.
“It is about us,” she said. “It is filled with people trying to grapple with life’s complexities and find meaning. These characters live fully and openly, hiding nothing. So often in American culture we feel that we must ‘conceal, don’t feel,’ but these characters will not be bound in that way! They don’t walk with trepidation, they bound fearlessly through their lives.”
But the ultimate make-it-or-break-it aspect of a good Mainstage is not the play, or even the translation that is ultimately chosen — it is the cast.
“My goal when I pick the plays is always to give the actors in the department the greatest opportunity to explore,” said Novinski. “But their commitment, their talent, their passion, gives me and my colleague and the department the opportunity to do these great plays. I couldn’t do it without them. It’s a collaborative art — when you have actors with such passion and talent, they give you the opportunity to do these great plays.”
Performances for “Three Sisters” run from April 3 to April 13, with the doors opening for the 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m., and for the 2 p.m. Sunday performances at 1:30 p.m. After each performance, there will be an opportunity to have a talkback with the cast and creative team of the show. Tickets are free for UD students, faculty and staff, so reserve a seat so that you don’t miss the show!