Tracy Letts Adapts Chekhov's THREE SISTERS for Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Begins Previews Tonight
Steppenwolf Theatre Company closes the 2011/12 season with Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov's humorous and affecting tale of longing for a better life, adapted by Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Tracy Letts, directed by Tony Award-winning ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro. Letts and Shapiro continue their celebrated collaboration following their acclaimed world-premiere production of August: Osage County (2007), bringing fresh insight to this classic story of a privileged family's changing fortunes.
Three Sisters begins previews tonight (Opening Night is July 8; Press Performances are July 7 at 3pm and July 10 at 7:30pm) and runs through August 26, 2012 in Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St). Tickets ($20 – $75) are on sale now (prices are subject to change).
In Three Sisters, the Prozorov family chafes at the constraints of life in their small provincial town, once a bustling army garrison where their late father served as general. Attempts to shore up their crumbling social status lay bare the larger forces of unrest that will soon engulf them all.
"Chekhov's play is one filled with nostalgia-the meaning and motives of which are very difficult to hold on to because at its heart is longing for something that never was, that can never be again," comments Steppenwolf Artistic Director Martha Lavey.
Adds director Anna D. Shapiro, "Three Sisters is a play about a certain kind of paralysis. It is about all of the things we construct in the future that keep us immobilized in the day. There are unhappy marriages, unrequited love, duels and really nasty in-laws. And everybody's trying to get somewhere else. And it's funny. Funny in the way that serious human folly can be funny."
Regarding his adaptation of Chekhov's play, Tracy Letts notes in a recent interview published in American Theatre magazine, "I don't speak a word of Russian. So my first pass through the script was like math; it was some of the hardest stuff I've ever done, just trying to figure out what the sentences were. So my guiding principle going into was, I'm going to try to eliminate for the audience any further act of translation; they're going to have direct communication with the ideas and the characters."
Steppenwolf's 2011/12 season, Dispatches from the Homefront, explores how everyday lives are touched by war. In each of the five plays, war exerts a pressure-sometimes centrally, sometimes obliquely-on the lives of the characters-and moves them to action. The plays are alive with the humor, the tenderness and the urgency of lives struggling to find home.
Final casting for Three Sisters features ensemble members Alana Arenas (Natalia "Natasha" Ivanovna), Ora Jones (Olga Prozorova), and Yasen Peyankov (Kulygin) with Usman Ally (Solyony), Chance Bone (Fedotik), B. Diego Colón (Rodé), Carrie Coon (Maria "Masha" Prozorova), Maury Cooper (Ferapont), Mike Digirolamo (Ensemble), Jennifer Dymit (Ensemble), Luke Fattorusso (Ensemble), Derek Gaspar (Tusenbach), Brandon Holmes (Ensemble), Scott Jaeck (Chebutykin), John Judd(Vershinin), Garrett Lutz (Ensemble), Katie Mazzini (Ensemble), Tom McGrath (Ensemble), Bruce Moore (Ensemble), Caroline Neff (Irina Prozorova), Rakisha Pollard (Ensemble), Tommy Rivera-Vega (Ensemble), Mary Ann Thebus (Anfisa) and Dan Waller (Andrey Prozorova).
Director Anna D. Shapiro joined the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble in 2005 and was awarded the 2008 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for August: Osage County (Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Broadway, London). She was nominated in 2011 in the same category for The Motherf**ker with the Hat (The Public Theater, LAByrinth Theater Company). Other directing credits at Steppenwolf Theatre Company include A Parallelogram, Up, The Crucible, The Unmentionables (also at Yale Repertory Theatre), The Pain and the Itch (also in New York), I Never Sang for My Father, Man from Nebraska, Purple Heart (also in Galway, Ireland), The Drawer Boy, Side Man (also in Ireland, Australia and Vail, Colorado), Three Days of Rain and The Infidel. Other credits include A Number (American Conservatory Theater); The Drawer Boy (Paper Mill Playhouse); Iron (Manhattan Theatre Club); and The Infidel (Philadelphia Theatre Company). She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Columbia College Chicago and is the recipient of the 1996 Princess Grace Award. She is a full professor in Northwestern University's Department of Theatre and has served as the director of the MFA in Directing program since 2002.
Adaptor Tracy Letts has been a Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member since 2002 and is the author of Killer Joe, Bug, Man from Nebraska (Pulitzer Prize finalist), August: Osage County (Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award for Best Play) and Superior Donuts.
The production team for Three Sisters includes: Todd Rosenthal (scenic design), Jess Goldstein (costume design), Donald Holder (lighting design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound design) and David Singer (original music). Additional credits include: Erica Daniels (casting), Cecilie O'Reilly (vocal coach), Dassia N. Posner (dramaturg), Laura D. Glenn (stage manager) and Deb Styer (assistant stage manager).
Tickets to Three Sisters ($20 – $75) are currently on sale at Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org. 20 for $20: twenty $20 tickets are available at Audience Services beginning at 11am on the day of each performance (1pm for Sunday performances).
Rush Tickets: half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show. Student Discounts: a limited number of $15 student tickets are available online using promo code "SISTERS15". Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket. For additional student discounts, visit steppenwolf.org/students. Group Tickets: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org/groups.
Free post-show discussionsare offered after every performance in the Subscription Season. Steppenwolf is located near all forms of public transportation and is wheelchair accessible. Street and lot parking are available. Performances featuring American Sign Language interpretation, open captioning and audio description are offered during the run of each play. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance.
Accessible Performances: Sign-interpreted performance: August 5 at 7:30pm; Open captioned performance: August 11 at 3pm; Audio-described performance and touch tour: August 19 at 1:30pm (3pm performance).
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America's longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces-the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat Garage Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 43 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming at Steppenwolf includes a five-play Subscription Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season and three repertory series: First Look Repertory of New Work, Garage Rep and Next Up. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Off-Broadway, Broadway, London, Sydney and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and nine Tony Awards. Martha Lavey is the Artistic Director and David Hawkanson is the Executive Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf's Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, find the company on Facebook and Twitter.