Play brings comedy with tragedy

cherry orchard“The Cherry Orchard” is an early 20th-century Russian version of a dysfunctional family, said theater Professor Brent Noel.

“The family gets together for about three months, and fights happen and people fall in love, so it tends to be fairly subtle.”

Noel is directing the play comprised of an all-student cast with the exception of one former student and retired professor Richard Rouillard, all of whom have been rehearsing for almost five weeks.

“The Cherry Orchard” was written by playwright Anton Chekhov in 1904 and directed by Constantin Stanislavski,” Noel said.

“Chekhov — this was the last play he wrote — was dying as it was being produced, but he and the director had a big argument whether … it was comedy or tragedy.

“The author thought it was a comedy and the director thought it was a tragedy, so it kinda walks that line between tragedy and comedy.

“There are some sad things. It’s a story of loss and unfulfilled promises,” Noel said.

“There are a lot of people who are in love, but they tend to be in love with the wrong person. As a result, everything just kinda misses.”

Theater major Taylor Reich, who is performing, said the play has become easier to understand.

“It’s going to be a great show. It’s going to be an amazing show.”

Noel said this play is one of the early examples of realistic theater.

“Stanislavski developed a method of acting that we still use today called the Stanislavski system, where actors were trained to act as realistically as possible,” he said. “Previous to that it was almost balletic in its use of gestures and movement.”

The challenge of acting in this play is one of the reasons Noel said he chose it.

“We are trying to teach our students a certain level of this style of acting. It was very influential and developed into method acting in the U.S.”

Theater major Samm Miller said she would recommend the show to those who enjoy good acting.

“It’s going to be artfully done. It’s going to focus on the acting.”

Noel said the performance is an adaptation by American playwright David Mamet.

“There’s a lot of subtext. It’s not really what the actors are saying, but what they’re not saying. A lot of it is about being able to read between the lines. A lot of times things are spoon fed to us so that we don’t have the training and can’t see what’s happening beneath the surface.”

“The Cherry Orchard” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 30, through May 2 in the Bruce Owen Theater.

For more information, contact Arts Division Secretary Jessica De Arman at or at 405-686-6278.

To contact Katie Axtell, email

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