Theatre Wesleyan Gears Up for Their Latest Production “Uncle Vanya”


According to Jonathan Burt, in this scene, Dr. Astrov thanks Sonya and Marina for their company as he prepares to depart the estate. Vanya, troubled, looks down at the great amount of work that he has neglected.

UPDATED: Fri. Feb. 19. 4:51 p.m.

“Uncle Vanya” will not be shown this weekend because of weather issues. It will be shown at a later date.

Theatre Wesleyan is starting to gear up for their first production of the semester, “Uncle Vanya” and its sounding like a worthy watch for next weekend.

The play is set in 1896 and centers around a family living in a Russian province who are essentially visited by three unwelcome guests that cause the family a lot of trouble.

Associate Professor of Theatre, Jeanne Everton, is the director of Wesleyan’s version of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” and she said that she is a huge fan of his work and has been in 4 Chekhov projects either as director or actor.

According to Jonathan Burt, Dr. Astrov (Brian Johnson) and Yelena (Bethany Bordelon) have a rare heart-to heart moment in this scene. Offstage, Vanya (Kristian Thomas) sits, anticipating his entrance to the scene.

“It makes me very happy to see that a play that’s 125 years old, has real relevance today. In fact, our pandemic situation is part of the reason I chose the play, because I saw the parallels to the way people react to an invasion,” Everton said.

Everton said that professors in the Theatre department have collectively decided that they would make it possible for their students to get the same experiences they would continue to have without the pandemic but still acknowledge all the restrictions that it has brought with it.

“Lots and lots of work in rehearsal has been devoted to, ‘I didn’t understand that phrase,’ or ‘don’t drop the ends of your sentences,’ you know, things that are still part of an actor’s challenge without a mask but becomes worsened by the fact that we have to have a bunch of fabric in front of our mouths,” Everton said.

Jonathan Burt, a sophomore theatre major, said that he admired how Wesleyan’s theatre program was able to persist during the pandemic.

“The actors are very much not physical with each other. They, everybody’s got masks, it’s it is sort of a reflection of how people have been responding to the pandemic. Just being more distanced,” Burt said.

According to Jonathan Burt, in this scene, Dr. Astrov thanks Sonya and Marina for their company as he prepares to depart the estate. Vanya, troubled, looks down at the great amount of work that he has neglected.

Burt plays one of the visitors, ‘Professor Serebryakov’ who he said is a catalyst for the action of the story largely because he asks a question of frustration of “Where are the people who are supposed to support me?”

“Yes, there are there are going to be very real moments that people can relate to, like anybody who’s been like contact traced and had to sit for two weeks in their home are going to relate to [characters like] the professor, for example,” Burt said. 

Gianina Lambert, a sophomore theatre major, said she was excited to see the show come together in the end because of all the hard work put into it and the number of obstacles and hurdles that the theatre group had been through to get the project off the ground.

According to Jonathan Burt, this scene is where Vanya and his niece Sonya (Julissa Norment) finally settle down at their old writing desk, resolving to get to work.

“A huge obstacle, with the masks and everything,” Lambert said. “You have to make sure that you’re being heard by everyone in the space, you have to make sure that you are turning in a way that everyone can see you. You have to move and kind of own the space so that everyone can understand what you’re doing.”

Lambert plays “Marina Vasilevna,” the resident nanny for “Sonya Alexandrovna” another character in the show. Lambert said that Marina’s character is a very compassionate person, charismatic and powerful, and that she always wants to take care of people.

“I’ve had to find [her comfort aspect] throughout my characterization of her and exploring who she is. I’m very chaotic, so finding that calm, compassionate nature was really special,” Lambert said. “I think it’s something that I don’t necessarily relate to, but it’s something that I’ve found through soul searching a little bit.”

According to Jonathan Burt, this scene shows Telegin (Richard Givans) giving a melodramatic account of previous events to Marina, the nanny (Gianina Lambert). In the background, Assistant Stage Manager Andrea German ensures all the actors have memorized their lines verbatim.