Monday, July 31, 2017

Three Sisters

Written by Anton Chekov
Directed by Maggie Cino

Produced by Obvious Volcano in association with Maggie Cino

Nominations: Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role: Sarah K. Lippmann; Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role: Moira Stone; Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role: Ivanna Cullinan; Outstanding Revival of a Play: Three Sisters

Clockwise from top: David J. Goldberg, Paul Weissman, Clara Francesca, Richard Lovejoy,
David Arthur Bachrach, Mick O'Brien, Ivanna Cullinan, Derrick Peterson, Sarah K. Lippmann
(not pictured: Lynn Berg, Amanda LaPergola-Bernhard)

About the Production: A full length, fully realized, environmentally-staged production of the Three Sisters where the comedy comes from fully investing in the story.

Here the artists talk to us about their experiences performing this challenging classical work.

What attracted you to this project?

Maggie: I work full time for the marvelous storytelling The Moth, but sometimes I like to go deep into psychologically complex literature. Chekhov himself was one of the inventors of contemporary narrative nonfiction, so the connection is closer than it originally appears!

Moira: The cast Maggie put together was like a murderer's row of indie theater. I had deep, years-long relationships with at least half of them. If we were going to put up one of the great plays in the Western canon in a comically short rehearsal period, then this was the way to do it; with a group that had that history and trust on Day One.

Sarah: It's Chekhov! How could I possibly say no?

Ivanna: The possibility of working with the crazy-talented Maggie Cino and her committed ear for the play's meaning

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

Maggie: Having the opportunity to work with actors whose work I respected at a theater that I love and with a script I have wanted to do for a very long time!

Moira: Working with Sarah Lippmann — a fantastic actress who happens to be my best friend of 18 years. Any chance we get to share the stage is one I treasure. Also, falling in love with Derrick Peterson's Vershinin every night was no chore.

Sarah: Great cast, great script, great director. A total gift from beginning to end.

Ivanna: Engaging with Chekhov in a way that finally opened up his work for me, and all the marvelous actors involved.

Moira Stone (foreground); David Arthur Bachrach, Clara Francesca,
Ivanna Cullinan, Mick O'Brien, Richard Lovejoy (background)

What was the most challenging part of working on this production?

Maggie: It's an epic undertaking. Twelve actors, environmental staging that changed configuration from the round to thrust, and a gorgeous script that is so intricate that as we unpacked layers of meaning it felt like a series of psychological Russian nesting dolls!

Moira: I don't do classic plays! I spent maybe a semester in college 20 years ago studying Chekhov, and aside from some Shakespeare, haven't touched a play written before 1950 since. I was completely convinced I would fuck it up, and relied heavily on Maggie's steady directorial hand.

Sarah: Truncated rehearsal process and a short run.

Ivanna: We had a very tight, albeit well-organized rehearsal time frame. It was terrifying and exciting.

What was the audiences' reaction to the work?

Maggie: The audience was warmly invited in as the show began. They were greeted by the servant characters, ate food off the very table the characters eat dinner at in Act 1. But as things got more unstable and uncomfortable for the Prozerovs, they got more unpredictable for the audience as well! The seating configuration was changed at intermission and the audience was forced into a much smaller space. The audience loses the beautiful, comfortable world the same way the characters lose it and so become more invested in their destinies.

What was the quirkiest part of the production?

Maggie: One of our last rehearsals was during the huge March blizzard - and the actors still found their way to the theater rather than lose the opportunity to work more on this intricate script!

Sarah: Always a joy to know so many people in the show. It's like family.

Ivanna: I now have a standing burger date with a cast mate who is equally committed to deadly food.

What insight did you gain while working on this production? 

Ivanna: Every scene in a Chekhov play is its own short story. Ignore its completeness at your peril.

What was it like working with this group of artists?

Maggie: All three actresses have been doing top notch work in Indie Theater for years, and I'm honored that this is the platform that got them recognition from the IT Awards!

Ivanna: The level of commitment to the best show every time

Ivanna Cullinan (left), Sarah K. Lippmann (right)

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