"The Marriage Proposal" highlights yearlong Chekhov project

By Cheryl Anderson Brown

Several months ago, several of Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies Harrison Long’s students set out to explore the work of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov as part of a yearlong project under Long’s guidance. This week, the project reaches one of its apexes with the student-directed production of Chekhov’s one-act farce, “The Marriage Proposal.” Audiences can enjoy one of three free performances scheduled for 8 p.m., Aug. 23 through Aug. 25 in the Studio Theater.

The yearlong project, which has been funded by a Creative Activities and Research Experience for Teams (CARET) grant from the KSU Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, has included several exclusive workshops, including ones led by KSU Provost Lendley Black, a Russian theatre scholar who has written a biography of Michael Chekhov, and one led by Russian master teacher Sergei Tcherkasski of  the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy, an expert on the rehearsal techniques employed by Konstantin Stanislavski. Michael Chekhov and Stantislavski are considered the foremost interpreters of Anton Chekhov.

In May, Long and his team of student artist-scholars traveled to New York where they participated in a Michael Chekhov Symposium at the The Actor’s Center, led by J. Michael Miller, founder of New York’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts and president of The Actor’s Center. Other Chekhov and Stanislavski scholars, including Joanna Merlin, Lendley Black and Per Brahe, also participated.

In addition to “The Marriage Proposal” production, the students will present a scholarly paper at the KSU Symposium of Student Scholars and, if their proposal is accepted, at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Spring 2008.

“I know first-hand how important it is for students to comprehend the historical, social and performance contexts of the material they are presenting,” Long says. “The benefits of this approach reach far beyond the classroom or even the proscenium arch.”


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