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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 24, 2008

University Theatres Mainstage season opens with Chekhov at West High

The University Theatres Mainstage season, displaced from the University of Iowa Theatre Building by last summer's flood, will open with Anton Chekhov's "Three Sisters" at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, in the Little Theatre of Iowa City West High School.

Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 8, 13, 14 and 15, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9.

"Three Sisters," which premiered in 1901 at the famed Moscow Art Theatre under the direction of Constantin Stanislavski, is one of the enduring classics of modern realistic theater -- one of the world's most widely produced plays, and considered by some critics and scholars to be the greatest drama of the 20th century.

"This is one of the truly great plays," says director Eric Forsythe, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre Arts. "Those who long for beauty, for authenticity in their lives, will recognize themselves in this play. What a privilege it has been to work on it, to inhabit this world and to laugh and cry with these glorious characters who continue to embrace life, even in the face of disappointment. It makes you glad to be alive."

The three Prozorov sisters of the title -- Olga, Masha and Irina, played by Sarah Helt, Rebekah Stein and Cynthia Pohlson -- have spent more than a decade living dull, unfulfilling lives in a drab provincial town, where their late father was assigned to command a military regiment.

Olga, the eldest, teaches school to make ends meet; unhappily married Masha seeks refuge from boredom by having an affair with the dashing Colonel Vershinin; and idealistic Irina dreams of the happiness, love and fulfillment that she feels they all would find in Moscow, the city of their birth.

The sisters' lives are further complicated by their relationship with their brother Andrei, who is content to serve on the town's council rather than pursue more ambitious goals, and their overbearing sister-in-law Natasha, who moves from a shy country girl to a domineering shrew as the play's events unfold.

"Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out," said Chekhov, and "Three Sisters" is a fitting demonstration of exactly that.

While the sisters represent the declining privileged class of Tsarist Russia just before the coming revolution, their personalities, thoughts, dreams and longings transcend the play's circumstances to provide insights into the universal search for meaning and place.

Other artistic contributors to "Three Sisters" include David Thayer, set design; Courtney Watson, lighting design; Ellen Erickson, costume design; Michael Cash, composer and sound design; and Brett Janecek and Connie Winston, dramaturgs.

Tickets -- $17; UI student and youth $8; senior citizen $12 -- may be ordered online at

The Hancher box office, also displaced by the June flood, is open for phone or walk-up business in Suite 107 in the south building of the Lindquist Center, at the corner of Madison and Burlington Streets, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Parking is available in the metered lot by the UI Main Library on Madison Street, or in the Old Capitol Town Center parking ramp at the corner of Clinton and Burlington Streets.

From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access and seating should dial 319-335-1158.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available for sale at the door one hour before show time.

University Theatres and the Department of Theatre Arts are part of the Division of performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,