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University Relations

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September 23, 2005
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684.

KU theatre stages popular Chekhov drama 'Three Sisters' in October

LAWRENCE -- The play regarded by some critics as the best drama of the 20th century will be staged by the University of Kansas Department of Theatre and Film University Theatre in October. Anton Chekhov's powerful play, "Three Sisters," will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 through 7 and 10 and 11; 5 p.m. Oct. 8; and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 9 in the William Inge Memorial Theatre in Murphy Hall.

Jack B. Wright, professor of theatre and film, is directing the Brian Friel translation of the play about longing and dashed hopes. Scenic and costume designer is Delores Ringer, associate professor of theatre and film and chairwoman of KU's scenography program.

Russian-born Chekhov was the grandson of serfs who managed to buy themselves and their families out of slavery, and the third son of a tyrannical, debt-ridden father. He entered medical school in 1879, one year before he published his first short story, and graduated from Moscow University in 1884 with a medical degree.

His first writings for the theatre were one-act comedies, with series works coming later in the form of "Ivanov" in 1887, "The Wood Demon" in 1889 and "The Seagull" in 1896. He did not find success as a dramatist until Constantin Stanislavsky founded the Moscow Art Theatre in 1898, reviving "The Seagull" in its first season to great acclaim. The Moscow Art Theatre went on to produce his most successful plays: "Uncle Vanya," a reworking of "The Wood Demon" in 1899, "Three Sisters" in 1901 and "The Cherry Orchard" in 1904, his 25th anniversary of literary work.

" Three Sisters" was the first play that Chekhov wrote specifically for the Moscow Art Theatre and one of the four major plays he wrote at the end of his life. Chekhov died of tuberculosis in 1904 at the height of his popularity. He was 44.

Like many of Chekhov's works, "Three Sisters" explores the decay of the privileged class in Russia and the search for meaning in the modern world, Wright said. Set in the late 1890s, he said the drama is a "beautiful play of character, relationship and motivation, exploring the gap between hope and fulfillment in the lives of the Prozorov family and their friends."

In the play, Olga, Masha and Irina Prozorov are refined and cultured young women, raised in urban Moscow, who have been living in a Russian provincial town for 11 years. With their father dead, their anticipated return to Moscow comes to represent their hopes for living a good life, while the ordinariness of day-to-day living tightens its hold. The sisters, along with their brother, Andrey, drag out a dull existence and are only diverted by the town's military officers and the ever-present dream of someday moving to Moscow.

Andrey, who has dreams of becoming a professor, makes a bad marriage, adding to his sisters' troubles, as his wife becomes a domestic despot. Masha, who is married to the pedantic schoolmaster, tries to find happiness in a love affair with a married officer, while the youngest sister attempts to escape the drabness of her life by marrying another officer. When the removal of the regiment from the town undoes Masha's plan, the three sisters are left as they were in the beginning, deriving faint pleasure from the cheerful sounds of the regimental band as it marches away, still clinging to their hopes for a better life.

Although the playwright described "Three Sisters" as a drama, Wright said the play is a "humor-based realistic comedy.

" Chekhov wanted these characters to be real and funny so we recognize ourselves in these complex characters," he said. "The characters have many flaws, as well as strengths, but all of these are on a very human scale. There are no heroic actions nor any tragic flaws"

Wright said he thinks the play is about time and how the pressure of time has influence on the present moment.

" In the end, these sisters are left with a sense of endurance," he said. "They have a determination to go on."

General admission tickets are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982, and Lied Center, 864-ARTS, and online at Public tickets are $12, tickets for all students and KU faculty and staff are $10, and senior citizen tickets are $11. VISA and Mastercard are accepted for phone and online orders.

Members of the cast for "Three Sisters" include (listed by name, class, major, parents' names, high school and role):

From Burlington
Monica Huff, senior, theatre, daughter of Harry and Debbie Huff; Burlington High School; Anfisa.

From Lawrence
Dianne-Yvette Cook, senior, theatre, daughter of Harold and Muriel Cook, Lawrence Free State High School, Olga Prozorov.

From Leawood
Julie Damore, senior, accounting, daughter of Rick and Janet Damore; Olathe East High School; Masha Prozorov.
From Mission and Shawnee
Hilary Kelman, sophomore, theatre, daughter of Steven Kelman, Mission, and Stephanie Kelman, Shawnee; Shawnee Mission North High School; Irina Prozorov.
From Olathe
Cali Gilman, sophomore, theatre, daughter of Barbara Signor; Olathe South High School; the Maid.
From Overland Park
Jordy Altman, sophomore, theatre and secondary education, son of Ron and Julie Altman; Blue Valley Northwest High Schoo; 2nd Lt. Alexey Petrovich Fedotik.

Brian Ervin, sophomore, psychology, son of Dan and Debbie Ervin; St. Thomas Aquinas High School; 2nd Lt. Vladimir Karlych Roddey.
Alex Haynes, sophomore, theatre and psychology, son of Martin Haynes and Patricia Thomas; Blue Valley Northwest High School; Ferapont.
From Stilwell
Matthew Crooks, freshman, theatre and English, son of Mike Crooks and Nancy Vunderlich; Blue Valley High School; Fyodor Ilich Kulygin.

From Leavenworth
Jonathan Matteson, sophomore, theatre and film, son of Matt and Christine Matteson; Leavenworth High School; Lt. Nickolay Lvovich Tusenbach.

From Hutchinson
Brady Blevins, sophomore, theatre and film, son of Curt and Cindy Blevins; Hutchinson High School; Andrey Prozorov.

From Manhattan
Blake E. Bolan, senior, theatre, daughter of Jeb Bolan and Wendy Adams; Manhattan High School; Natasha Ivanovna.

From Topeka
Adam R. Burnett, sophomore, theatre and creative writing, son of Vicki Fulmer and Russell Burnett; Topeka High School; Ivan Romanich Chebutykin.

From Falmouth
Carter Royce Waite, junior, theatre and film, son of DeDe Waite and David Waite; Falmouth High School; Lt. Col. Alexander Vershinin.

From Lakeville
Justin Knudsen, senior, theatre and creative writing, son of Ken and Barb Knudsen; Lakeville Senior High School; Capt. Vasily Vasilych Solyony.


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