Show times for Three Sisters are 8pm Wednesdays-Fridays, 7pm Saturdays and 3pm on the first Sunday. There is an additional half-price late night performance on the final Saturday, November 23. Tickets for the production are $12 for students, $16 for USC faculty/staff, military personnel and seniors 60+, and $18 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 803-777-2551 or by visiting the Longstreet Theatre box office, which is open Monday-Friday, 12:30pm-5:30pm, beginning Friday, November 8. Longstreet Theatre is located at 1300 Greene St.
A vibrantly modern story, the titular characters in Three Sisters, first performed in 1901, live together in their family home, settled in a provincial Russian town. They feel trapped by their conventional existence, however, and long to return to the sophisticated world of Moscow, which they were forced to leave years before. Anton Chekhov's poignant story is at once full of charm and anguish as the sisters are haunted by an impending future beyond their control and recollections of a happier past that keep them from truly living in the present.
University theatre professor Steven Pearson is directing the play, which he describes as “a breath of fresh air” and emblematic of Chekhov’s timeless appeal. “Chekhov’s plays have lasted because they’re about the human condition,” he says. “His work has a big heart for humanity and is loving about the difficulties of being alive and the magnificence that can exist in small events.”
Pearson has extensive experience with the work of Chekhov, both as a director and scholar. Additionally, three of his original works (Balance, Gravity, and Flight, produced through his company Pacific Performance Project/east) are billed as “riffs” on themes present in Chekhov’s works, The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard and Three Sisters.
The director says he is working to bring Chekhov’s intended sense of lightness to the play, which is commonly produced with a more somber tone. “Chekhov’s approach to things is not much different than, say, Charlie Chaplin’s approach,” Pearson says. “In [Chaplin’s] City Lights, for instance, The Tramp will get to a place that’s almost sentimental, where there is feeling and sadness and so on, and then – poof! – he gets water thrown in his face and we laugh. Chekhov actually uses that structure a lot. It gets kind of sad and then there’s something wacky that happens, just like in real life. There’s essentially a very human, smiling person that is watching this comedy of us going through our lives.”
All eight of the theatre program’s Master of Fine Arts in Acting candidates will appear in the production, including, as the sisters, Melissa Reed (Olga), Kate Dzvonik (Masha) and Laurie Roberts (Irina). Several professional guest actors will also appear in the production, including two longtime favorites of Theatre SC stages, Bob Hungerford (Chebutykin) and recently retired professor Richard Jennings (Ferapont/Anfisa). NYC-based actor/director Michael Place will take the role of Solyony.
A mix of period-realism and impressionism makes up the production’s scenic design, created by MFA scenic design candidate Meredith Hart. Guest artist Andy Smith, a Seattle-based professional lighting designer, will enhance the design’s impressionistic elements with evocative lighting textures. Detailed, period-specific costuming is being created by MFA costume design candidate Vera DuBose. Director Steven Pearson will also double as the show’s sound designer.
Pearson sums up the emotional resonance of the show by pointing to Chekhov’s mastery at portraying the reality of living.
“It's not like we go through our lives and suddenly something magnificent happens and that's the only meaning there is,” he explains. “Real life is much bigger than that, and we have to get sensitive to what's going around us. It's a magical thing to be alive, even the difficult parts, and I think that Chekov got his finger on that.”
For more information about Three Sisters or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.