11 MINUTES THEATRE
A NOTE FROM THE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
11 Minutes Theatre planned this season several years ago. We could never have foreseen the sad and devastating state of things in Europe today. This production is not a statement, a demonstration, a hidden message, or an "agenda" related to the current events of today. This performance is an adaptation of the original Chekhov classic. At its core it is about human nature and human relationships that just happen to be set in Russia, the native land of the writer.
Lastly, You will hear different characters called by different names. This is common in Russia. Russian names have several variants depending on the nature of the relationship between two parties involved in a conversation, formality of the setting, etc. A lady officially named Ekaterina may be called Katya among her friends but Katenka by colleagues, as an example. Shorter names may prove useful since they are easier to pronounce, but this is not always the case either. For instance, Geav is frequently referred to as Leonid Andreyevitch in this show. Understandably this can be confusing but such is the culture and how this famous writer wrote.
SETTING: AN OLD ESTATE IN TAGANROG, RUSSIA
As a child I was fascinated with Russian history, literature, music, and all of the vibrance and dichotomies of their culture. My favorite movie has always been Dr. Zhivago. My oldest brother studied Russian in school and was able to go to the Soviet Union on a school trip. What drew me to Anton Chekhov, our playwright, was one of the best teachers that I ever had, Dr. James Symons, who was my mentor and professor during my graduate studies.
The Cherry Orchard is one of my all time favorite plays because it speaks to timeless human issues, such as painful and joyful familial relationships, love in all of its forms, people trying to find their way in the world, class conflict, gender conflict, and young people pushing forward to make changes for their generation in a strange, violent, topsy-turvy world. As a teacher, this is currently what I am witnessing with my students as we live in a troubled world.
This play was written in 1904 and premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre. The Czars were still in control of the country — but there was severe unrest sprinkled with nuggets of hope, as the peasants and serfs who had been oppressed for hundreds of years in a static unforgiving class system were seeing the benefit of a changing economy and more opportunities to thrive. Hope and oppression imploded and exploded when the Russian Revolution started in 1917.
I decided to take a risk with this production. We have moved up the time period to 1968. Russia in the 1960s was living during the Brezhnev era. Once again, classes were clashing. Brief economic reforms, that later failed, were providing a sense of false hope for many people who wanted to work their way to a better life. In the US, we also saw conflict, as the Vietnam War was taking its toll, the devastating Detroit Riots had taken place a year before in 1967, and music, especially rock and roll, was providing the youth outlets for self expression and rebellion. Woodstock would happen a year later in 1969. Connection to our childhood memories and past provides an anchor for many people, yet often we view our past through rose-colored glasses. Change truly is scary, and although it can hopefully mean a better outcome for many, for others it is frightening, unstable, and can tear apart your heart.
I am so thankful to this amazing cast for their insight, dedication, and willingness to take a big risk with me. My parents are my biggest supporters, and Kevin Leonard and his husband, Roy Semerdjian, are my guardian angels. I would like to dedicate this production to Dr. James Symons, teacher, mentor, actor, director, and one of the best people I have ever met.
In order to hear more about our production and our process, please listen to our quirky podcasts and write to us about topics that you would like us to address in the future! Also, please, come in May to our follow-up production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Christopher Durang's contemporary, hilarious, and meaningful take on Chekhov’s plays.
CHARACTERS & CAST
Yermolai Alekseyevich LOPAKHIN: a merchant
Dunyasha: the chambermaid
Boris Borisovich SIMEONOV-PISHCHIK: a landowner
Anya: Lubov's daughter
Lubov Andreyevna RANEVSKAYA: a landowner
Varya, Lubov's adopted daughter
Leonid Andreyevich GHAYEV: Lubov's brother
Pyotr Sergeyevich TROFIMOV: a university student
Fierce: the butler
IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE
TAP IMAGE TO READ ACTOR BIO
CREATIVE & TECHNICAL
STAGE MANAGER - Eric Shand
LIGHTING - Kevin Taylor
COSTUMES - Alesha Machuca
TECHNICAL - Kevin R Leonard
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