For all you Theatre goers out there, CSUB’s spring production of The Cherry Orchard, will be opening on Thursday, May 23rd and running until Saturday, May 25th. The show will be running the following weekend as well, with performances on May 30, 31st, June 1st and 2nd. The play is Anton Chekhov’s last play, set in early nineteenth century Russia. The play is essentially a story about a woman who has found herself buried in debt and is on the verge of losing her family’s beloved cherry orchard because of it. This production is being directed by Dr. Maria-Tania Becerra, who is also a Professor of Theatre here at CSUB. “I’ve approached it as a comedy,” says Becerra, “but it is tragic.”
Becerra has directed six productions here at CSUB, and The Cherry Orchard marks her seventh. “It came out of the modern drama class, we were discussing it and the students loved it.” I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Becerra and find out a little more about the playwright, his intentions for the show when it was written, and how she feels about the production overall.
As a Theatre student myself, I’ve only been exposed to the works of Anton Chekhov once. That was in my Acting II class here at CSUB. Prior to that, I don’t think I’d ever even heard of the playwright, let alone known who he was. And now, with this show opening, some of my peers complain that it’s going to be boring, simply because the play is by Chekhov; others even said that they didn’t bother to audition because the play is by Chekhov. With all of this negative feedback about the show before it even opens, I thought it would be best to get a word from the director on the playwright and boy, was I surprised. “Oh, he’s brilliant,” says Becerra.
“People either love Chekhov, or they hate Chekhov…” says Becerra. “Either you enjoy the fact that he’s replicating everyday conversation or you’re like, ‘really, just get to it.”
The original title of the play was actually, “The Cherry Orchard: A Comedy in Four Acts,” and according to Becerra, Chekhov thought his play was hilarious. Constantin Stanislavski directed all of Chekhov’s first plays, and when Chekhov introduced this play to Stanislavski, “the two of them fought about it,” says Becerra. Becerra goes on to explain how, as far as comedy goes, this play might be considered a “dark comedy,” if anything.
So, whether you’re spending this Memorial Day weekend in town or away, be sure to come see The Cherry Orchard, it’s a really great play!