Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chekhov In Repertory

Yesterday we did something fun: my mother, my sister-in-law, and Joshua and I went to the Rarig Center on the main campus of the University Of Minnesota to see two Chekhov plays, “Uncle Vanya” and “The Cherry Orchard”. The plays, presented by the University Of Minnesota Department of Theatre Arts And Dance, had been running in repertory for the previous ten days, and yesterday’s performances marked the final day of the repertory run. We caught “Uncle Vanya” at the 2:00 p.m. matinee and we caught “The Cherry Orchard” at the 7:30 p.m. evening performance.

The student actors were taken from the BFA Actor Training Program jointly sponsored by the University Of Minnesota and The Guthrie Theater. The casts were directed by two out-of-town professional stage directors known for expertise in Chekhov.

We enjoyed the performances. They were high-quality student performances, nothing more, but the plays came across fully. Texts had been discreetly pruned, and the stage designs were not particularly good and not particularly imaginative, but the productions were definitely worth experiencing. The “Uncle Vanya” production was better than the production of “The Cherry Orchard”.

It had been a long time since any of us had attended a production of “Uncle Vanya”. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I saw “Uncle Vanya” on stage.

My mother and Josh and I had most recently attended a performance of “The Cherry Orchard” in London in August—and, further, Josh and I had seen “The Cherry Orchard” in Baltimore in March 2009. Yesterday having been our third “Cherry Orchard” in less than three years, Josh and I intend now to give the play a rest.

Between performances, we ate dinner at a Greek/French restaurant within walking distance—a long walk—of the Rarig Center.

Like the restaurant itself, we mixed Greek food and French food. Since we had plenty of time on our hands, we ordered four courses: Phyllo triangles with three different Greek fillings; Greek salad; Bouillabaisse; and Baklava. Our dinner was slightly disappointing, especially the Bouillabaisse, but we did not go hungry.

Everyone else in my family camped out at my parents’ house yesterday.

They did not go hungry, either.

Prior to the Chekhov performances, we all sat down to a lunch of homemade tomato-cream soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

For dinner, my mother left behind chickens ready for roasting, vegetables ready for steaming and new potatoes ready for boiling, along with a fresh cranberry salad and a Boston Cream Pie. It was a snap for my father and my brothers to do what little additional preparation remained.

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