WCU to present ‘Three Sisters’

Three Sisters opens at West Chester University, Feb. 29

West Chester University’s Department of Theatre & Dance presents a world premiere adaptation of the Anton Chekhov classic THREE SISTERS. Associate Professor of Theatre John Bellomo adapted and directs the show. THREE SISTERS runs Thursday, February 29, Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m., in the JP Adler Studio Theatre, E.O. Bull Center for the Arts, 2 East Rosedale Ave., West Chester, PA. General Admission tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors with valid I.D. at www.wcupatix.com.

THREE SISTERS debuted at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1901. In THREE SISTERS, the Prozorov sisters long to leave their country estate and return to Moscow, but they find themselves trapped by financial hardships, tumultuous affairs, and their own inner demons. Chekhov navigates the sisters’ beautiful suffering with gentle humor, warmth, and compassion.

Bellomo adapted THREE SISTERS from a translation by Victoria Squicciarini, a Russian scholar and Bellomo’s wife.

Bellomo says, “I wanted to find the comedy in the script. There are famous letters between Chekhov and Stanislavsky, the show’s first director, in which Chekhov accuses Stanislavsky of ruining his play by making it a tragedy. I’ve seen productions where it’s either slapstick comedy or it’s tragic. I wanted to see if the two can occupy the same space. When we create theatre, a trap that many fall into, is that we play only one emotion, one aspect of the human condition. We know that life is more complex and nuanced than that. We have all witnessed someone or experienced ourselves laughing and suddenly bursting into tears or vice versa. That is what I wanted to capture.

The show’s scenic design includes pre-recorded video projected onto the set.

Production Manager Christen Mandracchia says, “We are experimenting with how we can use digital technology to expand the story beyond what’s currently possible in our physical space. This is research that builds on the inquiries and learnings that came about during the pandemic. Our West Chester University faculty and students are working to keep this innovation alive in the industry.”

Traditional Russian folk music is used in THREE SISTERS and is played live by the actor/musicians.

David Gold, a junior Theatre major, is Aleksandr Vershinin in THREE SISTERS.

Gold says, “We spent several weeks of rehearsal studying each character’s inner life, a technique used by Stanislavsky when he first directed the show. One of the reasons this play still resonates today is because the characters, always longing for happiness, are so relatable. I lost my father recently and based my character of Vershinin on my dad, who was always hopeful for the future and an optimist.”

The cast of THREE SISTERS includes: Ivana Agova (Ensemble), Raven Burckhalter (Ensemble), Sophie Cox (Anfisa/Ensemble), David Gold (Vershinin), Nicci Hardaway (Olga), Emily Harris (Irina), Ania Hawkins-Williams (Ferapont), Ronnie Hernandez (Chebutykin), Owen Kaatz (Kulygin), Lauren Kuerschner (Natashsa), Luke Preston (Tuzenbakh), Exavior Rease (Andrei), Bri Silasavage (Ensemble), Dylan Stevens (Fedotik), Matthew Tindall (Rode), Jack Williamson (Solyony), Isabella Yackanicz (Masha).

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