Anton Chekhov knew he was dying as he wrote his final play, "The Cherry Orchard," a masterpiece about transition that itself transitioned theater into a new age. Theater Emory presents this moving comedy as the final production of their 2012-2013 season, "Provocative Tales: Eccentrics, Beasts, & Misfits," April 4-14 in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater.
"The play is full of social comedy, farce, and a kind of absurdity that anticipated and contributed to existential comedies much later in the century," explains Tim McDonough, director of the production and chair of Theater Studies at Emory. Every moment is ephemeral in this story of childish misfits who cannot connect.
"This will be a haunted production of a haunted play," says McDonough. "Its ghosts include the dead, offstage characters who never appear but influence events, and the characters themselves, who live not in the present but in the past or the future. And this production will include the ghost of the playwright himself." Chekhov, played by Theater Studies professor Donald McManus, is present onstage as the central experiment of Theater Emory's production: he initiates the play and orchestrates the action until characters take on their own life.
Set designer Sara Culpepper has realized an imaginative re-design of the Leslie Taylor set created for "Grim, Grimmer, Grimmest," Theater Emory's fall 2012 production. What was a dark and dangerous forest has been transformed into a white, dreamlike world. Professional actors in the cast include Janice Akers, John Bugge, Mark Cabus, Jim Donadio, Donald McManus, and Clint Thornton with lighting and sound design by Brent Glenn, costumes by Sydney Roberts, and choreography by Emory alum Nicholas Surbey.
Performances of "The Cherry Orchard" are April 4-6 and 10-13 at 7 p.m. and April 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater of the Dobbs University Center. Tickets are $20 general admission, $16 discount category members, $6 Emory students and are available at the Arts at Emory box office at 404-727-5050 or www.arts.emory.edu. For more information visit www.theater.emory.edu.