Three sisters in Moscow
The lights came on in the Hartung Theater and the audience was welcomed to four nights of satirical comedy last week.
Those who missed out on “Anton in Show Business,” a play written by Jane Martin, have another chance as the show gets another run this weekend. The show returns on Oct. 4 and will run through the 6th, each night at 7:30 p.m., and will then have a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.
“It’s a satire — I think that’s the most important thing to know coming in,” said Kristin Glaeser, senior theater student. “If you don’t know that, you are going to get slapped in the face pretty hard. It’s about theater, it’s about art and it makes fun of just about everybody involved in the process.”
The all-female cast put on the show that revolves around three actresses that try to put on Anton Chekhov’s play “The Three Sisters.” The play is directed by David Lee-Painter.
Holly is played by Glaeser and represents the big fish in the small pond.
“Holly is a T.V. star, she’s kind of notorious for doing quirky roles where she often ends up naked, so she knows how to use her body a lot — it’s kind of a joke throughout the play,” Glaeser said.
MFA graduate student Chris Stordahl, who plays Casey, and sophomore Lo Miles as Lisabette, joins Glaeser on stage. Casey plays the older actor of the three and brings a level of experience with her as she is said to have done more than 200 shows. Lisabette is more of a naïve character, who comes from Texas looking for her first big break in theater.
“I think we were cast for these parts for a reason. David saw something in these characters that mirrored our own personalities,” Miles said.
Throughout the play, the three find themselves interacting with other actors on and off the stage. In the background are silhouettes a people who help to create the surrounding. Actors off the stage take a part in the show.
Showing the depth of the cast, multiple members were cast for multiple roles. They would appear on stage throughout the show in different attire and personas, including UI graduate and summer Olympian Angela Whyte.
Preparation for the show began the weekend before school began as auditions were held and they were cast by that Sunday night. Since then, they have gone through six days a week of practice for four hours a night and sometimes a seventh night was necessary, Glaeser said.
She said the week before the show began was even more grueling for the cast as Saturday saw a 10 hour practice, followed by another six hours on Sunday and then three dress rehearsals during the three nights before the show opened on Thursday.
According to Glaeser, it felt great to finally get to perform in front of an audience who didn’t know what was coming next.
“It was almost shocking when people would laugh because we were so used to it being so dry for the last couple of weeks doing it,” Glaeser said. “People were laughing at jokes that were no longer funny to us, so it was like, ‘oh yeah that is funny,’ and remembering to have to wait for them to finish laughing and to play off of the audience — it was pretty exciting.”
Part of the process for the actors was developing their characters. By doing that, sometimes they found similarities within themselves Stordahl said.
“I think I found a lot of things with Casey that are familiar and are hard to look at, but I think that’s what I love about theater is you get to dig into yourself and look at these things in a supportive way and bring it to share,” Stordahl said.
After finishing up the show on Sunday the cast will have the next three days to charge their batteries and prepare for another four days of performances, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be ready to go back to work on Thursday.
“I think after that break I’m really going to be missing the show. I want to see these girls again,” Miles said.
The person in charge of the entire production is the director, David Lee-Painter, and according to his actors he has been able to create an environment that has allowed them to feel safe and do some of their best work.
“It’s hard for me to talk about David Lee Painter without being biased because he’s kind of been like a father away from home to me since I have been here, and now that I’ve been here for four years I have a really close bond to him, but he just has a knack for caring about people and bringing them together and creating one of the best possible works you can create,” Glaeser said.
General admission to the performances is $10. UI faculty and staff pay $8 and UI students get in free with their Vandal cards.
Jacob Dyer can be reached at email@example.com