Following a successful residency in 2016 with sell-out, critically acclaimed productions of Brecht’s FEAR AND MISERY OF THE THIRD REICH and Sondheim’s ROAD SHOW, Sasha Regan presents a second season of drama and musical theatre from the Phil Willmott Company.
The season opens with the UK premiere of Tracy Letts‘ new version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, directed by Willmott and running from 4 January to 4 February 2017. Further productions are to be announced.
Commenting on the new season, Phil Willmott said:
“I hope this little season is a chance for audiences to take a fresh look at two classics, fuelled by my belief that Fringe Theatre can and should be enhancing our appreciation of the mainstream repertoire by offering fresh perspectives on great plays and musicals.
“The friendly, nurturing, informal yet deeply creative atmosphere of Sasha Regan’s Union Theatre has made it one of my favourite places to work for many years. In 2016 I came up with the notion of bundling my regular work there into one annual mini-season. This year, in a UK premiere, one of today’s most gifted playwrights adapts a Russian classic, there’s a chance to experience a much-loved musical score in a production based on its rarely performed original book and the opportunity to discover a new version of a recent hit show.”
Willmott will direct all productions in the season, with costumes by Penn O’Gara. For the still-to-be-announced musical offerings, musical direction will be by Richard Baker and choreographyby Holly Hughes.
In a UK premiere, one of America’s most celebrated contemporary playwrights, Tracey Letts, hones and focuses Chekhov’s depiction of three young Russian women, in a back-water town, whose dreams are eroded by a series of encounters with guests, lovers, family and the proletariat,
It was first performed in 1900 to reflect an increasingly obsolete leisured class, struggling to find a purpose in an age of great social change. At this precise moment in time, when the intelligentsia have become irrelevant at the ballot box it couldn’t feel more pertinent.
Refreshingly, amidst a crowded market of Chekhov adaptations, Tracy Letts, the Tony award winning actor and Pulitzer prize winning author of stage and screen hits AUGUST:OSAGE COUNTY, BUG, SUPERIOR DONUTS and KILLER JOE, makes no radical changes to the setting, story or characters.
Instead he brings a directness of motive and linguistic clarity that only a brilliant actor and an undisputed master of contemporary drama can offer.
Letts has described his approach as follows:
There has to be a guiding principle going into it—and for me, it was the fact that, as an audience member, I don’t much like going to see Chekhov. They start talking about name days and using the patronyms, and everybody’s got a big beard, and I check out early and often. I’m normally left pretty cold by it. So my guiding principle was, I’m going to try to eliminate for the audience any further act of translation; they’re going to have direct communication with the ideas and the characters, without having to sit there and say, “What is a name day?
A critically acclaimed, daringly unapologetic, emotionally taut version of Chekhov’s masterpiece resulted and, taking his cue from Letts approach, award winning director Phil Willmott‘s production will be equally uncluttered and immediate.
The production is also a chance to discover some of the most exciting emerging acting talent in the UK, in a large cast ranging in age from 22 to 72, all of whom have been encouraged to bring their differing perspectives on Chekhov’s characters to the rehearsal process.
The cast for Three Sisters are: Celine Abrahams (Olga), Ivy Corbin (Masha), Will Henry (Rode), Hugo Nicholson (Solyony), J. P. Turner (Chebutykin), Francesca Burgoyne (Natasha), Molly Crookes (Irina), Tom Malmed (Tusenbach), Steven Rodgers (Kulygin), Lawrence Werber (Ferapont), Benjamin Chandler (Andrey), Jonathan James (Fedotik), Corinna Marlowe (Alfisa), Ashley Russell (Vershinin)