Last weekend the Augsburg Theatre Department opened its 09-10 season with Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, a drama that expresses Chekhov’s longing for Moscow (he was in Yalta at the time) and for his wife, Olga, who he left behind.
Here Kat Lutze [right], a sophomore majoring in arts administration with a specialization in theatre, discusses her experience playing Olga, the oldest of the three sisters. Lutze is joined by junior Shannon O’Brien [left] who plays Maria and sophomore Abbey Ehling [center] who plays Irina.
Probably the most enjoyable and most challenging part of The Three Sisters has been learning and interpreting Chekhov’s realism and humor. We are supposed to play as realistically as possible. This means we don’t play humorous lines for laughs and we don’t play tragic lines for sympathy. We try to represent the situations as realistically and as straightforward as possible. The challenge here is in choosing very specifically where to focus a scene and where to really drive the scene. I truly enjoyed working with Martha to find and interpret these moments.
I have never portrayed a more realistic period character. In other shows I have played characters with over-the-top accents, old ladies, animals and other creatures, and even as numerous Shakespearian men. Martha (Johnson) constantly had to remind me that Olga is a strong woman with integrity. She may have tragedy in here life and she may be tired, but I should never act as such. I should always act the strong woman with integrity and let the words, not my “acted emotion,” display her tiredness and her tragedy.
The Three Sisters is a classic that any scholar should certainly be encouraged to see, but it also includes philosophy by which we can all live. Though many characters say “What difference does it make?” these sisters stand by each other through times both happy and sad and encourage each other to keep on working and living so that in the end people can learn from their suffering. Olga looks to a future where “suffering will turn to joy for the people who come after us. Their lives will be happy and peaceful and they’ll remember us kindly and bless us!”
We are the people who come after these three sisters. It leads us to question whether our lives really are as bright as these characters believed they would be. But even those who do not see plays for philosophy can be entertained by both the comedic and tragic elements in the main plot. It is a thoughtful play full of love, deception, yearning, philosophy, and redemption. I do hope you’ll enjoy it.
The Three Sisters is directed by Martha Johnson. Remaining performances are November 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. and November 15 at 3 p.m. Call 612-330-1257 for tickets.