RIT hosts free performances of ‘Uncle Vanya’ in celebration of Russian literature

Classic Anton Chekhov tale runs April 18, 20 and 21

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Caraleigh Hawkinson

Performers rehearse a scene from 'Uncle Vanya,' which will be performed April 18, 20 and 21 in RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies.

The ingredients of any juicy stage production—drunken ramblings, mismatched lovers and errant gunplay—never seem to get old. These show-stopping elements are present in the classic Anton Chekhov play, Uncle Vanya, which will be performed at 6 p.m. April 18, 8 p.m. April 20 and 2 p.m. April 21, at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies, as a tribute to Russian literature. The performance is sponsored by RIT’s Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture.

The play examines the frustrations and follies of an educated middle-class family not long before the Russian Revolution. Set on a country estate south of Moscow, the play delves into the monotonous routines of Uncle Vanya and his niece, until they are suddenly thrust into turmoil with the arrival of Vanya’s aging brother-in-law, a retired professor, and his young, glamorous wife, Yelena.

“These characters are not so different from people today,” says David Munnell, visiting assistant professor of theatre in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts and the play’s director. “Their need for meaning and purpose is a very modern affliction. And, like many of us, their self-involvement and lack of perspective often leads to ridiculous behavior. We’ve tried very hard in rehearsal to capture the mix of tragedy and farce that Chekhov created. Chekhov considered Uncle Vanya a comedy, and although the characters genuinely suffer, we hope that our audiences will appreciate the humor—even hilarity—that their situation provokes.”

The performances are part of the April 18 symposium, “From Russia With Love: Literature, Music, Art and Film,” an examination of Russian politics, philosophy and art.

For more information, contact Munnell at dgmgsh@rit.edu.