ISU Theatre season opens with Chekhov classic


Brent Leblanc, senior in performing arts, stars as playwright Konstantin Tréplev in ISU Theatre's production of The Seagull. Photo by Nancy Thompson.

ISU Theatre's 2013-14 season opener is a production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. Performances, all in Fisher Theater, begin at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27-28 and Oct. 4-5, and at 2 p.m. Sept. 29 and Oct. 6.

In his few plays, Chekhov experimented with the idea that a play's drama could be in the characters' words and not their actions. The story's main events occur between acts. Once asked to summarize The Seagull, Chekhov said it featured "three women's parts, six men's, four acts, landscapes, a great deal of conversation about literature, little action and tons of love."

The Seagull follows the romantic and artistic conflicts among four characters: the famous but fading actress Irina Arkadina; her lover, writer Boris Trigorin; her son, playwright Konstantin Tréplev; and Nina, a young actress whom Konstantin loves.

Theater department lecturer Matt Foss, who directs The Seagull, studied and performed in 2007 at the American Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre. This theater is where an 1898 performance of The Seagull helped propel Chekhov, a medical doctor, to international fame as a writer and playwright.

"It was exciting to work on this great play in the rooms and on the stages where Chekhov and the Moscow Art Theatre ensemble created such a famous production," Foss said. "Chekhov in Russia is a lot like Shakespeare in the United Kingdom and the United States. You are seeing fewer plays featuring gauzy curtains and samovars full of tea, and more theatrical productions of Chekhov's works. We are trying to get at what Chekhov was writing, rather than recreating his Russia."

Student leads

Cast in the lead roles are: Meghan Berkland, junior in performing arts, as Irina; Taylor Sklenar, senior in chemistry and English, as Boris; Brent Leblanc, senior in performing arts, as Konstantin; and Christina Holaday, senior in performing arts and journalism, as Nina.

Dan Poppen, junior in performing arts; and Mat Wymore, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, have scored and arranged original music for the production. Serving as stage manager is Kiah Kayser, senior in performing arts.

Season tickets available for another week

Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $9 for students. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, the Iowa State Center ticket office in Stephens Auditorium or at the door before performances. ISU Theatre season tickets will be sold through Oct. 4 at the Stephens location. Season tickets (good for admission to all six productions) are $92 for adults, $88 for seniors and $56 for students.