Russian classic to be staged

The Seagull, by Russia’s greatest playwright, Anton Chekhov, will be presented by Northwestern College theatre Nov. 11–13 and 18–20 in the England Theatre of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center. Curtain rises at 7:30 p.m.

Director Dr. Robert Hubbard says Chekhov plays are challenging, particularly for Western actors and audiences, and are rarely produced by undergraduate theatre programs. He says his cast has been relishing the challenge and exploring the depths of Chekhov’s multidimensional characters.

“For years I have wanted to direct a Chekhov play,” says Hubbard. “His plays are witty yet heartbreaking, colloquial yet poetic, realistic yet allegorical.”

Gathered at a country estate, Chekhov’s characters—eccentric artists, lovers, peasants and bureaucrats—explore what it means to be an artist and create good art. They freely love and reject affection, driving themselves and each other to desperate demands and decisions.

Hubbard has set the 1898 Russian play in 1920s Romania, in the Carpathian Mountains, which he visited last spring as a guest of Northwestern’s Romania Semester program. While in the post-communist country, Hubbard conducted theatre workshops and explored Bucharest, which was once known as the “Paris of the East” for its vibrant culture and artistry.

Hubbard says Romanians, like Chekhov’s characters, manifest a theatricality that is unfamiliar in Western cultures like ours, where people are less effusive emotionally. One Romanian Hubbard met described his countrymen’s corporate personality as “volcanic.” Hubbard’s cast will bring a similar volcanic passion to their characters and to the action of each scene.

Northwestern junior Robi Bogdanffy, who is from Petrosani, Romania, served as Hubbard’s translator and tour guide last spring and has assisted with the production, providing correct pronunciations of Russian names, for example.

The cast includes local student Daniel Sikkema, a junior from Hospers, in the role of Constantine, an aspiring writer in the shadow of his actress mother. Sophomore Kylie Steinbach plays Constantine’s mother, Akradina; junior Andrew Stam has the role of her novelist lover. Greta Hays, a senior, plays an aspiring actress and the object of Constantine’s unrequited love. Other actors in the production are seniors Renee Ausborn, Nick Rohlf and Aleah Stenberg; junior Joel Koster; and freshmen Honna Brown, Andrew Lafleur, Jack Nickolay and Alex Wendel.

Tickets for The Seagull are $7 for adults and $4 for students. The DeWitt Theatre box office opens Nov. 1 for Theatre Patrons; it is open Nov. 2–20 for the general public. Tickets can be reserved by visiting the box office between 4 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday or between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday. The box office can also be reached by phone, 712-707-7098, or e-mail,