Hayward company to produce “Three Sisters”
February 5, 2015
The Douglas Morrison Theater in Hayward is holding daily rehearsals, sometimes up to 12 hours on weekends, leading up to Feb. 13th’s opening night of their production of “Three Sisters.” The company’s production of the Anton Chekhov-written play from 1901 takes on a more modern and relatable approach.
“Three Sisters,” a Russian production, follows young sisters Olga, Masha, and Irina Prozoroff, and their brother Andrei, navigating their lives following their father’s death. The sisters are in their twenties and have goals to lead a more lavish life in Moscow while Andrei’s new wife, Natasha, seems to hold them back in a far simpler life.
“I have loved this play for many, many years,” said Artistic Director Susan Evans, “because I think it’s one of the masterpieces of dramatic literature.”
The company will perform Tracy Letts’ 2009 adaptation of the play, which was made more suitable and simple for today’s audiences. It moves quicker, and is more stripped down than the traditional Chekhov production.
“This version, I think is really different because it’s more accessible to people,” said Evans.
Not only is this the first time any version of any Chekhov play will be performed at the theater, Friday will be the “regional premiere of this version,” said Evans, “So that’s exciting for us.”
The theater, which opened in 1979, is owned by the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District.
“Twenty-five percent of the theater’s budget is supported by the property taxes of the people who live in our district, which includes Hayward, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and other portions of unincorporated Alameda County,” according to the theater’s site.
Rehearsals are held everyday leading up to the preview show on Thursday, Feb. 12, and opening night on Friday the 13th.
On the weekends, however, rehearsals tend to run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“It’s a big process because tech weekend is when we integrate all the light and sound,” said Evans of the 12-hour practice days. “It’s a pretty big show. Lots of props and gorgeous costume design.”
Being a community organization, most of their cast comes from the Bay Area.
“We have a wide casting pool,” said Evans, “Which I would say is getting even wider. [Sometimes] the part calls for a younger person from Chabot, Ohlone, or CSU East Bay, but we are pulling from all over the Bay Area.”
Each season, the theater presents a new production. Last October “Candide,” a musical, opened at the Douglas Morrison Theater.
Opening night costs three dollars more than any other night, because of a party held with the actors following the first performance.
The charge goes towards purchasing the party’s refreshments.
In the past few years, Douglas Morrison Theater has received recognition from critic and blogger Susannah Greenwood in her Artsalot blog about productions like “All My Sons” and “Ideal Husband.”
In addition to full-production plays and musicals, the theater holds many other types of events. Most notably is the storytelling event. Participants who sign up are given a topic, and are asked not to write a script, but to get up in front of an audience and tell a true-life story about the topic that they are given.
“We want people to get to know that this is in their backyard,” said Evans, “That people don’t need to go over to the city to see quality theater, and also that something might be going on on any given week.”
They are also introducing a new improv group session to their portfolio.
“We just started working with an improv group,” said Evans, “Every couple months they come up from Fremont to do a show.”
Douglas Morrison Theater’s production of Tracy Lett’s adaptation of “Three Sisters” opens Friday, Feb. 13 in Hayward. Tickets are priced at $32 for opening night and $29 every show after that. The play will run through March 8, 2015.