Uncle Vanya to Premiere Oct. 10

Pomona
College’s Theatre and Dance program will perform Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya this weekend at Pomona’s
Allen Theatre, the first of six productions this year. 

Chekhov
wrote the play in 1897, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest short story writers in history. Late in his life, the Russian began to
write for the theater. 

“On
the strength of just four plays that he wrote, he is considered one of the true
giants in the western theatre canon,” Uncle Vanya director Art Horowitz said.

Tracing
the disruptive visit of an elderly professor and his young wife to a quiet
country estate, Uncle Vanya covers
unrequited love and thwarted ambition.

“It’s a
play about hopes being dashed, about nobody getting really what they want, and
the truly heroic act in the world of Chekhov is survival: surviving despite the
fact that I don’t like the cards that I’m dealt,” Horowitz said. “The
ultimate act of sacrifice is just to keep on going.”  

Horowitz,
an associate professor of theatre at Pomona, was thrilled to have the opportunity to direct Uncle Vanya. Horowitz’ long history in theater began in one of
the world’s epicenters of performing arts: New York City.  

“Growing
up in New York the way I did, I had access to seeing, watching theatre all the
time,” he said. “It was always something that absolutely intrigued
me. I’m one of the very very lucky people in the world who almost can’t
believe I get paid to do what I do.”  

While
Horowitz has been a long time fan of Chekhov, he didn’t choose to perform Uncle Vanya. Rather, the decision was
left to a committee of students and faculty members who joined together last spring to create the lineup for the 2014-2015 school year.

“We want
the input of the students in the department in our plays,” Horowitz said. “We
don’t want to be doing plays that they’re not happy with.”  

While the
students play a large role in choosing which productions they perform, they are
also integral in the creation of these plays. Several students played a
particularly important part in Uncle
Vanya
, including Adam Faison PZ ’15 and Oliver Shirley PO ‘15, both of whom
are using this performance as a part of their senior theses. 

Uncle Vanya certainly provides ample opportunity for a compelling thesis. The play offers an in-depth, artfully orchestrated portrayal of a troubled family, with tension and conflict consistently bubbling beneath the surface throughout its course. Faison will play
the eponymous role of Vanya, and Shirley will play Dr. Astrov.  

“It has
been such a great experience to play alongside such a talented cast,” Faison
said. “We have become such a family both on and off of the stage for the past
month. And for that reason, I believe that our performances have become more
explosive and engaging each night.”

The hope is that
the performance’s location will be engaging in and of itself. It is scheduled
to premiere not on stage at the typical Seaver Theater, but at the Allen
Theatre. Everything from the new direction to the acting to the stage
production has been forced to come together incredibly quickly in order to be
ready for this week’s opening.

“The audience is
going to be on all four sides of the actors as they work, and that’s a whole
other challenge,” said Horowitz. “One of the things about this is just
how incredibly close to the action the audience is going to be. To me, that’s the beauty of doing live theatre.”

Regardless of the setting, Uncle Vanya will showcase a lot of handwork and talent. According to Horowitz, the cast and crew will be more than ready for the first performance. 

Uncle
Vanya
is an ambitious production with a lot of people’s impressive work being
put on display up close and personal for the audience to experience and
enjoy,” Shirley said. “Students and staff shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to
explore this world with us, and they might even find that it’s more relevant to
their lives than they thought was the case.”      

Uncle Vanya will
be performed at Pomona’s Allen Theatre at Pomona Oct. 10 at 8 p.m., Oct. 11 at
2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the
Seaver Box Office by emailing seaverboxoffice@pomona.edu or by calling (909)
607-4375
.

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