Reading: Tuesday 26 June 8.00 pm Auditions Thursday 28 June 7.30 pm
Production dates: Saturday 10, Monday 12 to Saturday 17 November. Rehearsals start Monday 24 September
Director Jane Barth.
Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov is a tragicomedy first performed in 1897, just twenty years before the Russian Revolution. But the play has no aristocrats, no serfs. It is about a family and some of their friends reaching a critical moment in their lives. The irony is that after the moment has passed, not much has changed on the surface: they pick up their lives again but things are not quite the same. They have learned more about their inner selves and know where their futures will take them. In true Chekhovian manner, there is not a lot of comfort to be gained from the knowledge.
The play is set in a country estate – nothing huge or grand, it just rubs along. It’s run by Vanya and his niece, Sonya. The estate once belonged to Vanya’s sister who died young, leaving it to her husband, the father of Sonya. He is now elderly and cantankerous, an arts Professor in the city with expensive tastes who has come to expect a generous income from the estate, which he regards as his. The Professor has recently married again, to Yelena, a much younger, attractive woman. The play covers a visit to the estate of the Professor and Yelena and its outcome which, in the end, brings no change.
Although the characters have their human faults, Chekhov treats his characters with much sympathy and humour and Mike Poulton’s translation of the play brings a lightness of touch and insight to their situations. One can’t help but feel sadness at the close, even though there is foolishness and a near-murder committed. But life goes on …
The characters are as follows – all the ages given are acting ages:
Vanya, the Uncle of the title. 40s, a lively, intelligent man frustrated by never being able to find what he really wants to do with his life. He reluctantly runs the country estate.
His friend, Dr Astrov, 40/50s, a brooding, more serious man, sometimes cynical, and again someone who finds himself in the wrong job. He would really have liked to grow trees.
Sonya is Vanya’s niece and right-hand woman on the estate. 30s. Serious, kind, hopelessly in love with Astrov.
Professor Serebryakov, an ageing arts Professor in his 60s/70s. His gout and rheumatism do not help his sense of failure as an academic.
Yelena, his second wife, late twenties, early thirties. She enjoys the monetary comfort which marriage brings her but is obviously not happy. She is noted for idleness.
Maria is Vanya’s mother and Sonya’s grandmother. 60s. She is very involved in politics and causes. She idolises the Professor but fails to be concerned with her immediate family.
Marina is an elderly nurse, 60/70s, a very religious woman who has looked after two generations of children and is now mostly a sympathetic bystander.
Telegin is in his 50s, 60s, an impoverished landowner who works on the estate; a hanger-on. He is nicknamed “Waffles” due to a skin complaint but that’s not important. He strums a guitar, so if you can play even simply, you’ll be very welcome.
There is also a male servant, Yefim, who appears now and then. This role could well be doubled with a backstage role.
Any enquiries, contact me at email@example.com or 01928 724808
The Reading on Tuesday 26 June will be a part-reading. There will be a list of extracts for the Auditions on Thursday 28 June which can be sight-read.