Mamet adaptation of “The Cherry Orchard” comes to Bruce Owen Theater

April 27, 2015 Latest Print Print
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Cherry OrchardThe last play written by the acclaimed Russian playwright Anton Chekhov will make its way to the stage at 7:30 p.m. April 30 through May 2 in the Bruce Owen Theater on campus.

OCCC’s theater department will present David Mamet’s adaptation of “The Cherry Orchard,” one of Chekhov’s most famous and influential plays.

“The Cherry Orchard” originally opened in early 1904 in Moscow, Russia. It is a comedic tragedy about the return of an aristocratic Russian woman and her family to their family estate before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage.

This estate includes a large and well-known cherry orchard that becomes one of the main plot points in the play.

Theater Professor Brent Noel will be directing this performance.

Jerusha Brown, 20, is a theater arts major playing the role of Anya, the 17-year-old daughter of the central character, Madame Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya.

Brown said she has been acting for about 10 years, starting after she saw the musical “Peter Pan.”

Brown said that she is a “tiny bit nervous” about the performance because it is in a different style than she is used to.

“I’m used to proscenium style theater, which is almost like a TV screen,” Brown said. “You don’t break the fourth wall, but we’re doing it in three quarters…it’s a different style than most theater people see.”

David Chen, 27, is a theater arts major playing the role of Peter Trofimov, a student and the love interest of Anya. Chen said when he was young, before he moved to the U.S. from China, he would participate in many plays.

About two years ago, Chen said, he was at a down point in his life. He wanted to do something that would cheer him up and make him happy, so he decided to pick up acting again.

Colin Morrow, 22, is a diversified studies major who will play the role of Yermolai Alexeievitch Lopakhin, a merchant who is extremely wealthy, but comes from the lowest social class.

Morrow has been a member of the acting world for about seven years.

“My dad is an English teacher and my mother is a librarian, so I’ve always been around stories and literature,” Morrow said. “I really enjoy being a part of those and bringing them to life.”

Richard Rouillard, 73, is playing the role of Firs, an elderly manservant who was emancipated when Alexander II freed the serfs. Due to his age, Firs has failed to maintain the estate in good condition and has forgotten many things.

Rouillard is a retired OCCC professor. He taught English composition and humanities for 36 years before leaving the college.

The actors had different feelings about “The Cherry Orchard.”

Brown described the play as “funny, but it is a sense of humor not many people get.”

She then explained how there was an argument between the playwright and the first director, Constantin Stanislavski, about whether the play was a comedy or a tragedy.

Chen discussed how, if you look into the themes of the play, you can see how it relates to today’s society and how there is a “deeper connection.”

Social class was a major part of the time period in Russia when the play was written, and this system of class heavily influenced “The Cherry Orchard.”

“I think every character’s situation is very stark,” Morrow said. “It’s easy to see how that relates to society today.”

When asked about the themes and messages behind “The Cherry Orchard,” Rouillard provided detailed answers.

“One of the characteristics of theater and drama is things are not always as they seem to be,” Rouillard said. “Another important theme, I think, is the lack of preparedness of the aristocracy…they are not prepared to make the changes that need to be made to survive.”

The cast of this play has been working together as a group since March 23. Rouillard explained how the actors are working to make sure the play turns out well.

“I have a feeling that, by the time it’s all over, this group of people will be pretty solidly a group that will look back on ‘The Cherry Orchard’ as one of their finest experiences.”

Tickets will be priced at $5 for students and $10 for the general public. In order to get the student discount, students must have their student ID with them at the time of purchase.

For more information, e-mail Director Brent Noel at bnoel@occc.edu.

To contact Harrison Langston, email onlineeditor@occc.edu

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