Uncle Vanya (June, 2011)
The arresting visual in Ia Ensterä's wood-saturated set is a canopy of huge, dry branches that unfold in the rafters above the scene like the spokes of a strange wheel - a visual reminder of Astrov's fervent argument for trees as well as a symbol of the comfortable, but terrible death all seem to be moving towards, slowly, of course, taking all the time in the world. - Georgia Young, Austinist Review
Director and translator Graham Schmidt and designer Ensterä seem to be saying that we are not just surrounded by but also dominated by and at the mercy of a corrupt and dying nature, and we see this idea played out in the action of the story...Barry Pineo, Austin Chronicle Review
[Matt] Radford and [Robert] Matney are a dynamic pair, playing well off each other, and infusing their respective roles with nostalgia and melancholy...[Liz] Fisher brings strength and emotional depth to the young wife, illustrating well the interminable suffering of ennui. - Cate Blouke, Statesman Review
About The Production:
Breaking String returned to the Russian canon with a production of Chekhov’s 1899 masterpiece, Uncle Vanya. Ironically sub-titled “Scenes From Country Life,” the play chronicles a climactic moment of rural Russian life. Uncle Vanya is about finding meaning, hope, and conservation in a life that seems to promise little. Chekhov revised his early play Wood Demon (1889) into the triumphant Uncle Vanya.
Uncle Vanya’s theme of ecology speaks to the world's ever-more urgent discussions of conservation and sustainability. Chekhov's insight that the fate of humankind is tied to the fate of the environment now seems prophetic: "In all of you there’s a demon of destruction. You spare neither forests, nor women, nor one another…." (Yelena speaking to Vanya)
Breaking String’s Uncle Vanya featured direction and an original translation by Graham Schmidt. The ensemble cast of actors includes Robert Deike, Emily Everidge, Liz Fisher, Harvey Guion, Anne Hulsman, Chris Humphrey, Robert Matney, and Matt Radford. The production also features sound design and original music by Adam Hilton and Henna Chou, scenic design by Ia Enstera, costume design by Julia Howze, and lighting design by Steven Shirey.
This is the fourth work for which Breaking String Theater has commissioned an original translation from resident translator Graham Schmidt. Of the practice, Schmidt observed that “it is integral to our process, our identity, and is a reflection of our desire for direct contact with Chekhov's words, tailored for this moment and for our work.”
- B. Iden Payne Award Nomination - Outstanding Lighting Design Steven Shirey
- Winner - Austin Critics' Table Award for Outstanding Scenic Design, Ia Enstera
- Winner - Austin Critics' Table Award for Outstanding Costume Design, Julia Chinnock-Howze
- Austin Critics Table Award Nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role, Matt Radford
- Austin Critics' Table Award Nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role, Emily Nicole Everidge