By Ellie Gavin || Layout Assistant
This past weekend, F&M College Theatre delivered its production of Anton Chekhov’s 1900 play, “Three Sisters.” The show had four performances (February 19-22) at The Other Room Theatre and was directed by Rachel Anderson-Rabern, a new addition to the F&M community and F&M College Theatre.
Chekhov was born in the Eastern Russian Empire in 1860. Best known for his writing, he was also a trained physician. Additionally, the literary device known as “Chekhov’s Gun,”a foreshadowing technique, is named for him.
The show follows the lives of the three very different Prozudov sisters as they navigate through times of love, family life, and disappointment. The sisters all begrudgingly reside in a small, rural Russian village. They speak longingly of returning home to Moscow, a city that they equate with happiness.
Charlie Wynn, who plays the eldest Prozudov sister, Olga, describes the characters’ struggle to find happiness and satisfaction in their lives.“Throughout the play, (the sisters) want nothing but to go back to Moscow. They all feel very trapped in their lives, and they see Moscow as the only way they can get out,” she said.
As the show unfolds, the three sisters come face to face with many of life’s difficulties and disappointments, such as unsatisfying romantic relationships, tense family relationships, and heartbreak.
Director Anderson-Rabern feels that while the show is a difficult one, it is certainly worthwhile. She feels that the true value of the show lies in “the beauty of paying attention to everyday circumstances.”
Even though the show is set in early-20th-century, rural Russia, many cast members found that they didn’t struggle at all to get into character. Wynn says that she was surprised at how easy it was for her to relate to her character.
“We wanted to think of these people as people, not as Russians from the 1900s,” Wynn said. “Each of us has found something in our characters that we can really connect with.”
For Wynn, that connection has come by way of her character’s willingness to help others. “She takes care of her family and friends before herself, even to her own detriment,” Wynn said. “and I found that pretty easy to conceptualize, because I’m a lot like that!”
Laurel Haitoff, who plays the Prozudov’s sister in-law, Natasha, agrees with Wynn. The play’s antiquated setting did not affect her ability to connect with her character,“As a cast I feel like we have focused more on getting into character and less on getting into the Russian character,” Haitoff said. “We want the characters themselves to be genuine and not try to be something we are not, since we aren’t an authentically Russian cast.”
Although it is set half a world away, the show is filled with themes and messages that make it relevant to college students today. Anderson-Rabern mentions how well the show portrays both the good and bad in people.
When asked her opinion on the show’s core message, she responds, “That kindness is a worthy endeavor… It is asking us to treat those around us as real people.”
Wynn also finds relevant, modern-day meaning in the old, foreign show — one of finding happiness from within and treating others with consideration. The says,“The show really just asks you to be as happy as you can with what you have, but to not forget about the people around you and how they’re affected by your own choices.”
Ellie Gavin is a Layout Assistant. Her email firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by photo editor Emma Brown.