‘Three Sisters’ brings 19th century Russia to the stage

The production runs from Feb. 2 to Feb. 12


Katie Fox

Characters played by senior Sophie Thomas (left) and junior Evan Souza (right) share a tender moment in “The Three Sisters.”

Hope Zhu, Staff Writer

The curtain rose on Wake Forest Department of Theatre’s spring season with a production of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” at the Scales Fine Art Center from Feb. 2-5. There will be additional performances this weekend.

The production tells the story of Olga, Masha and Irina Prozorov –– three sisters living in a small, Russian town in the 19th century. As they dream of moving to Moscow to pursue a more meaningful life, the sisters find themselves caught in passionate affairs with the military men stationed in the area.

“Why do we suffer? What really matters? What must be done now to ensure a happier future for all?” Wake Forest professor of acting and director of the show Dr. Sharon Andrews said. “For all artists who have worked to lift this play from the page and into the eyes and ears of the audiences, they have been challenged by the questions ‘Three Sisters’ poses.”

Wake Forest’s production of “Three Sisters” prompts discussion surrounding the ongoing war and violence in Russia. The production team highlights the separation between the nation and its people, as stated in a program note: “Chekhov’s work illuminates our shared humanity and connections beyond borders through the arts.”

Chekhov’s work illuminates our shared humanity and connections beyond borders through the arts.

“Three Sisters” has a run time of approximately two hours and 15 minutes –– the longest production of the university’s academic year. Assistant director and senior Nicole Liu explained the challenges of producing a lengthy piece.

“Usually, professional theaters spend months or even years studying a single play,” Liu said. “However, we are putting on a three-hour show in just three weeks. In my role, I have to assist the director by serving as an extra pair of eyes to identify areas for improvement.” 

Junior Sarah Cadena also faced the challenge of balancing her daily schedule and her role as stage manager.

“The most difficult aspect is juggling my time, as I also have to make time for classes and homework,” Cadena said.

The production team’s efforts in set design and creative direction constructed an immersive theatrical atmosphere. Set pieces such as 1990 vodka bottles and furniture reflected 19th century Russia. The play also displays psychological realism, which focuses on internal motivation, psychological processes and characters’ inner thoughts rather than narrating the story, allowing actors and audiences to connect with the characters’ desires and needs.

“These women are very passionate and emotional in a way that American society does not train us to do,” actress Sophie Thomas (‘23) said. “But once I embraced the idea that our characters are simply enthusiastic about life and express themselves through flowery language, I saw the beauty in this play.”

Andrews shared her excitement about the relevance of the thematic quality of “Three Sisters” — a story that asks questions about the future of human beings in a polarized society.

“Audiences will see a work by one of the most important playwrights in the Western canon and see their fellow students engaging in an art form they love and value,” Andrews said.

“Three Sisters” will also run from Feb. 9-12 on the Tedford Stage in Scales Fine Arts Center. To buy tickets and learn more about the production, visit https://theatre.wfu.edu/

Correction Feb. 8: An earlier version of this article’s headline misstated the title of the production.