Contact: David W. Booth, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
January 11, 2007
DeKalb — According to the School of Theatre and Dance at Northern Illinois University, the Russians are not coming, they are already here.
Opening Feb. 1, two plays by Russian authors, Anton Chekov and Maxim Gorky, will be presented in repertory as the next production of the school’s 2006-7 Subscription Series season. Chekov’s "The Seagull" and Gorky’s "Summerfolk" will run alternately in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre through Feb. 11.
Directing "The Seagull" and using his own translation from the original Russian, the school’s director, Alex Gelman, is particularly suited to both translate and direct a Russian play. Not only has Gelman been a professional theater director since 1985, he spent the first 13 years of his life in Russia and has remained fluent in the language. He translated his first draft of "The Seagull" 10 years ago, and this will be his first staged production of the play.
Gelman says "The Seagull" is very likely the most famous piece of Russian theatre. In fact, he says, even within a culture where live theater is very rich and widely supported, the world renowned Moscow Art Theatre made its reputation with a production of this play.
He describes "The Seagull" as “being truthful, observing life in detail,” and about real people an audience can identify with. He says, “Interpreting a play is like climbing the mountain to understanding.” But, a successful production gives the audience that spark of recognition for the people onstage and, Gelman says, that was the key to "The Seagull’s" success when it first played in Moscow in 1897, and it is still a factor in the play’s continued success.
"Summerfolk" is directed by School of Theatre and Dance faculty member, Christopher Markle, and follows the suddenly idle, discontented and socially disconnected lives of members of the Russian middle class during the period just prior to the social upheaval that became known as the Russian Revolution, in 1917.
The Russian plays feature the School of Theatre and Dance graduate and senior-level undergraduate students playing roles in both productions, switching between characters and plays every night they perform.
"The Seagull" runs Feb. 1, 3, 9 and 11. "Summerfolk" runs Feb. 2, 4, 8 and 10. Curtain times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Reserved seat tickets are $14 for adults, $8 for seniors and $7 for students.
For more information, call the Stevens Building box office at (815) 753-1600, or visit the Web site at www.niu.edu/theatre.
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