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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 30, 2011

University Theatre Mainstage opens 2011-12 season with Chekhov's 'Cherry Orchard'

The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts will launch the University Theatre 2011-12 Mainstage season with Anton Chekhov's last play, "The Cherry Orchard," in a new translation by Curt Columbus, at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, in the E.C. Mabie Theatre of the UI Theatre Building. Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 8 and 12-15, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 9 and 16.

In this comic/dramatic Chekhov masterpiece, an aristocratic Russian family at the turn of the 20th century tries to hold on in challenging economic times; to preserve a way of life amidst the inevitable pressures of "progress." When presented with options to fend off impending foreclosure, can the family rise to the challenge? Change, loss, renewal and folly -- issues as old as humanity and as contemporary as the current economic meltdowns -- are portrayed as only Chekhov can.

Director Eric Forsythe, a faculty member in the Department of Theatre Arts, says, "Chekhov's masterpiece is so fresh and true to life it could have been written yesterday. We're especially looking at the wonderful mix of comedy and drama, and finding so many extraordinary connections with life in our preoccupied, economically challenging times.

"It's such a treat for us to enter the amazing, bizarre and vivid world Chekhov has given us: real food for the soul!"

Chekhov was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1898, and he wrote "The Cherry Orchard" confronting his mortality in exile on Yalta, far from his family and friends. He based the story partly on his personal experience -- owning a cherry orchard on an estate he later lost, with the new owner then chopping down the trees.

Chekhov, whose plays often depicted the human comedy in dramatic ways, intended his final play to be a Vaudeville-like comedy, and he subtitled the script "A Comedy in Four Acts." Against his wishes, Stanislavsky interpreted the play as a drama in its first production, and the debate about whether "The Cherry Orchard" is a comedy or a drama continued as the play established its place among the great works of theater.

The UI production features scenery by R. Eric Stone, costumes by Mia Khayat, lighting by Jess Fialko, original music by Michael Cash, choreography by Rachelle Tsachor and dramaturgy by Kristin Kurtz.

Tickets for the performances are $17; UI students $5; senior citizens $12; youth $10 from the Hancher Box Office.

The Hancher Box Office, in the Old Capitol Centre, is open for phone (319-335-1160 or 800-HANCHER) or walk-up business from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be ordered online at Any remaining tickets will be available for sale one hour before show time at the UI Theatre Building.

The Department of Theatre Arts is part of the UI Division of Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click on the link "Subscribe or Unsubscribe" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Eric Forsythe, Theatre Arts,; Winston Barclay, UI News Services, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013, (cell),